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November 13, 2020

Steps for trade, food safety amid pandemic stressed

Islamabad

November 13, 2020

Islamabad : Experts in an online workshop called for tangible measures to ensure trade and food safety amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

During the event organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Trade & Development (PITAD), the experts mainly discussed as to how the improved federal-provincial coordination on food safety can increase the likelihood of Pakistan’s food exports being preferred abroad.

They opined that better coordination was required between product standard authorities and Ministry of National Food Security & Research for the timely delivery of trade consignments.

The experts asked the government to conduct a regulatory impact assessment to see how such costs which hurt the competitiveness of exporters can be reduced. In this regard, they said, the authorities concerned may also look towards the progressive practices adopted by peer economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

PITAD Director-General Raheela Tajwar said after the first wave of COVID-19, appropriate biosecurity arrangements in trade has become imperative and good hygiene practice now needs to be evolved by all involved in the logistics.

Dr Ali Abbas Qazilbash, an expert in trade sector, said that the COVID-19 has seen an increase in non-tariff barriers, and it is impacting the global supply chain in agriculture as well. He said the world needs to achieve food safety compliance.

Freight forwarders and transporters need to implement the controls and human contact needs to be minimized by ensuring electronic certification, he said, adding that many organizations are now dealing with Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, whereas a single authority as a focal point should be made available on SPS agreement.

SDPI Joint Executive DirectorDr Vaqar Ahmed said after the first wave of pandemic, many countries are paying due attention on hygienic and safe transportation, port handling, storage, and warehousing of cargo. In this connection, he maintained, new consignment handling procedures are being discussed in different countries, and the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization are also considering these procedures.

“The safety of people involved in the supply chain and logistics has received attention in the recently emerging literature,”he said.

Dr Vaqar Highlighted the importance of capacity building of institutions concerned to understand the food safety amid pandemic.

“We need to minimize possible rejection of exports from Pakistan or food loss and waste on account of weak compliance of safety standards.”

Earlier, SDPI researcher Mahnoor Arshad said a needs-assessment exercise should be conducted for the trade governing bodies concerned to identify the real issues and meet future demands in the wake of any pandemic situation.