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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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8. The Equivalence of Swiss Food Standards


8.1 Introduction In spite of its geographical situation, Switzerland has remained outside the European adherence process. It sits at the heart of the European continent, yet it has decided to remain politically and economically de- tached from the EU. However, recently enacted laws and regulations, as a reflection of their social and economic status, have been increasingly adapted to those of the main trading partners worldwide. This tendency has also been observed in Switzerland.490 The Swiss and European legal framework for foodstuffs provides a good example of coordination and equivalence regulatory approaches. For example, until recently, for a foreign product to be placed on the Swiss market, it had to comply with a series of public mandatory qual- ity standards that were established at the ordinance level. This situation changed radically once the unilateral adoption of the Cassis-de-Dijon Principle entered into forced in 2011. According to the new legislation, a Swiss manufacturer may choose to produce for the domestic market according to EU technical quality requirements if doing so proves to be economically more beneficial than compliance with costly Swiss quality standards. Although still in force, Swiss public mandatory standards have become de facto non-mandatory law. This chapter builds on the previous one. It aims at illustrating regu- latory equivalence within new forms of food governance. In doing so, it 490 For a comprehensive political analysis of the theory of autonomous implemen- tation and its applicability in Switzerland see: Roy Gava/Frederic Varone, So Close, Yet so Far? The...

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