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Global Food Governance

Implications of Food Safety and Quality Standards in International Trade Law


Mariela Maidana-Eletti

With increasingly globalised markets, changing consumer preferences and the steady development of technologies influencing food trade flows, safety and quality concerns have triggered the development of new forms of global (food) governance. Since its creation in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has succeeded in providing a multilateral legal framework for the development of regulatory practices through its multiple agreements. Similarly, the continuing importance of regional and bilateral trade agreements, such as in the European Union and in Switzerland, has enhanced WTO’s accomplishments through a comprehensive and dynamic set of international rules and standards for trade. However, the changing trends in the production and distribution of food products have questioned the effectiveness of the regulatory status quo. This book addresses the legal aspects of the current global architecture for food governance, particularly with regard to the role of international standards. In doing so, this work attempts at mapping the implications of domestic food measures in international trade law.


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7. The Coordination of European Food Standards


7.1 Introduction The impact attributed to WTO rules goes far beyond their implementation in national legislation. It also affects the way Members cooperate with one another on a bilateral level and their regional networks and agreements. NAFTA,407 MERCOSUR,408 ASEAN409 and the EU offer some very con- crete examples on the influence of international trade rules in their own regional organisations. Food standards play an important role in the inter- national-regional dynamic. Depending on the regulatory approach pre- ferred, coordination, harmonisation and equivalence will be more or less reflected in their own set of food trade rules. In the EU, for instance, the impact attributed to its food legisla- tion goes far beyond its mere application among its Member States. It expands across EU borders to influence the regulatory environment of third-party States. In fact, rules on the functioning of the EU Internal Market are looked upon with admiration, transposed onto foreign sys- tems and sometimes even categorically rejected as means of keeping the power balance in international trade.410 This is the reason underlying the following study on the EU coordination of non-harmonized areas of Food Law. Due to the less disputed nature of current harmonized areas of EU Food Law and based on the numerous amount of academic 407 North American Free Trade Agreement, 17 December 1992. 408 Mercado Común del Sur, en. Southern Common Market, 26 March 1991. 409 Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 28 January 1992. 410 See e.g. EC – Hormones; see...

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