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Organic food products:
New trading opportunities for developing countries?

By Ulrich Hoffmann (UNCTAD, from Geneva)
Rene Vossenaar (UNCTAD, from Geneva) and
Veena Jha (UNCTAD, from New Delhi)


Issues

1.     Heightened consumer interest in food safety and quality has generated
increased demand for organic food in international markets. Concerns about
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), recent food scares related to bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, popularly known as the mad-cow disease) and
other problems such as outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease will have far-reaching
implications for agricultural policies and demand for food products, in particular in
developed countries.

2.      As a result, growth in demand for organic food products currently outpaces
that of domestic supply in most developed countries. For example, UK demand for
organic food increased 55 per cent in the year to April 2000,1 although from a low
base. Even though the area of land under organic production or in conversion to
organic farming in the United Kingdom increased from 50,000 hectares in 1996 to
over 425,000 hectares2 today, imports continued to grow and now represent 75 per
cent of organic sales. Import demand for organic food products is increasing in other
countries as well, although in general the import penetration rates are much lower.3




Opportunities

1
    Soil Association, Organic Food and Farming Report 2000
2
    In the European Union as a whole, there are now over 120,000 enterprises with around 3.5 million
    hectares under certified agricultural production, representing 2.6 per cent of total agricultural land.
    Source: Stiftung Okologie and Landbau (SOL) in Organics Newsline, Vol. 2 Issue 12, 29 March
    2001.
3
    In Germany, 81 per cent of all organic vegetables on the market are domestically produced. With
    the supermarkets currently playing a small role, there is high growth potential in the German market.
    The Government of Germany recently announced plans to ensure that organic agriculture will obtain
    a 20 per cent market share in 10 years (Statement by Renate Künast, German Minister for Consumer
    Protection and Agriculture on 8 February 2001. See http://www.bml.de). The government is
    expected to start promoting increased marketing of organic foods, including through the
    introduction of a national logo. See: Organics Newsline, Vol. 2 Issue 12, 29 March 2001.
                                                    2




3.      This can create new trading opportunities for developing countries.4 Although
the certified organic agricultural sector in developing countries is still small, good
conditions exist to increase production. Since many producers in developing countries
use traditional production methods (using little or no chemical fertilizers and
pesticides), larger conversion to certified organic production should be possible,
provided that certification is affordable.5 In India, for example, there has been a long
tradition of organic farming and on 70 percent of the arable land, agro-chemicals have
not been used. Similarly, methods of ‘‘alternative’’ agriculture are used on around 10
per cent of the total cultivated area in Brazil. In Africa, organic production is still
rarely certified, but in several African countries certified organic agriculture is
growing.

4.      In addition to offering potential trading opportunities, organic agriculture can
have socio-economic and environmental advantages for many developing countries.6
A recent study shows that conversion to organic agricultural systems in developing
countries is triggered by different objectives, such as: securing a place on international
markets, export promotion, economic self-reliance, finding alternatives to decreased
access to agricultural inputs, natural resource conservation, food self-sufficiency, and
rural and wider social development.7 The impacts of organic production on food
security, which can be both positive and negative, require careful attention in the
context of agricultural policies.8


4
    On trading opportunities for developing countries see also the review by the International Trade
    Centre (WTO/UNCTAD): “Organic food and beverages: World supply and major European
    markets” (ITC/P12.E/ PMD/MDS/99-VII), Geneva, 1999.
5
    Abundant supply of labor and the fact that many local communities have a rich body of traditional
    knowledge related to farming practices further provide many developing countries with a
    comparative advantage in organic agriculture.
6
    A recent paper commissioned by UNCTAD argues that “Oganic farming can enable Asian
    smallholders to attain household food security and modest income while regenerating the land,
    regaining biodiversity and supplying quality food to local communities”. Angelina M. Briones,
    University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Organic Agriculture in Asia: Implications to
    Development, Environment and Trade in Developing Countries. Paper prepared for the project
    “Strengthening Research and Policy-Making Capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing
    Countries.” Workshop in Havana, May 2000.
7
    Nadia Scialabba, Food and Agriculture Organization, Factors Influencing Organic Agriculture
    Policies, with a Focus on Developing Countries. Paper presented at IFOAM 2000 Scientific
    Conference, Basel, Switzerland, 28-31 August 2000.
8
    While organic agriculture provides export opportunities and other benefits, careful choices have to
    be made. In Vietnam’s agricultural policy, for example, food security is an overriding priority.
    Therefore it is important to select crops that can be grown in an organic way without significantly
    reducing yields. For example, organic fruits and vegetables can be grown in an organic manner. In
    these cases Viet Nam should design proactive policies to promote both production and exports. In
    other cases, including important food categories such as rice, authorities consider that food security
    requirements may make it difficult to convert large areas of land to organic production. Here
    agricultural policies should focus on reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, even if
    organic standards would not be met. For example, rice, even higher grades, can be grown with lesser
    use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Veena Jha (ed.), Trade and Environment, Policy
    Implications for Viet Nam, forthcoming.
                                                    3


5.     Exports are the major driving force of certified organic production in most
developing countries. In Latin America, for example, despite growing domestic
demand, the export market remains the main outlet for most organic crops.

Constraints

6.       Developing countries, however, face several market and export constraints.
First, there is concern that national and regional standards and import procedures in
developed countries may create obstacles to imports of organic products originating in
developing countries.9 According to the Codex Alimentarius Guidelines,10 import
requirements should be based on the principles of transparency and equivalency.11 In
the European Union, Article 11 of Regulation 2092/91 should open the EU organic
food market for products from third countries, based on the concept of equivalence.
However, only six countries are on the “third country list”: Argentina, Australia, the
Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel and Switzerland. Only one country, the Czech
Republic,12 has been added since 1991.13

7.     Instead, in 1992 EU Council Regulation 2083 introduced a case-by-case
import permit procedure as an alternative way to access the EU market for organic
food products. The case-by case procedure, which applies to every consignment
imported from a non-listed third country, was set up as a provisional measure.
However, for non-listed countries this allegedly cumbersome procedure is still the
only way to export organic products to the EU market. Apart from complex
procedures to enter organic markets in developed countries, organic products from
developing countries may also be subject to tariff and non-tariff obstacles targeted at
conventional products.

8.      Second, even where developing countries are able to increase production,
problems in areas such as handling, transport and marketing may create export
constraints. Certification can be a serious problem due to factors such as cost and lack
of infrastructure. Options for reducing certification costs will be examined below.
9
     Gunnar Rundgren (IFOAM), in his welcoming address at BIOFACH Trade Fair 2001, complained
     that “Worst affected of all is the area of international trade, where the EU recently adopted another
     20-page regulation that will make the already existing trade barriers even higher. The US and
     Japanese rules seem to follow the EUs track of a regulatory nightmare in relation to imports” Press
     release.
10
     Codex Alimentarius, Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of
     Organically Produced Foods. GL 32 – 1999.
     See: http://www.fao.org/es/esn/codex/STANDARD/standard.htm
11
     As set out in the “Principles for Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification” (CAC/GL
     20-1995).
12
     Regulation 548/2000 of 14 March 2000.
13
     Other countries have initiated procedures to be included. For example, in February 1999, Costa
     Rica submitted an application. An EU mission visited Costa Rica in November 2000. In its Final
     Report, the mission recommended to include Costa Rica in the third country list, provided that the
     Costa Rican authorities inform the Commission that action has been taken to implement certain
     recommendations within 6 months. Europan Commission, Organic Farming in Costa Rica.
     DG(SANCO)/1252/2000 – MR Final.
                                                  4




9.      Third, developing countries may find it difficult to secure price premiums.
Experience from case studies in India (see below) seems to indicate that in many cases
price premiums for growers are uncertain and difficult to secure. This is in part due to
the fact that marketing chains tend to be complex. Thus, even where consumers and
retailers are willing to pay a price premium, in many cases such premiums do not
seem to have benefited producers. Sometimes certified organic products are sold in
the market for conventional products. Much depends on the product category, market
structures, sales strategies and other factors.

Risks

10.     There is uncertainty about the long-term implications of recent developments
for trading opportunities for organic products originating in developing countries. For
example, the effects of projected increases in organic production in developed
countries (induced by ambitious Government plans and subsidies) on market prices
and import levels are uncertain. If markets fail to expand at the same rate as
production, there will be downward pressure on prices, lower margins and incentives
to keep out imports.

11.     In addition, there is concern that increased pressure for subsidies to promote
organic agriculture may adversely affect the competitiveness of products imported
from developing countries. Several developed countries provide subsidies to assist
farmers during periods of conversion to organic agriculture. There are also pressures
to increase post-conversion subsidies. For example, the Soil Association, a leading
certification body of organic food in the United Kingdom, is promoting the idea of an
Organic Stewardship Scheme, which would provide long term support for organic
farmers in recognition of the environmental benefits or organic produce.14 Thus,
pressures for subsidies for organic farming are often linked with “multifunctionality”
arguments.

12.     In developing countries, on the contrary, Governments give little support to
organic production and hardly provide any subsidies. In Latin America, for example,
no government provides subsidies or economic aid for organic production. Some
countries give peripheral support. For example, in Costa Rica there is official funding
for organic research and teaching, while in Argentina and Chile exporting agencies
help producers attend international fairs. In general, though, the organic movement in
Latin America has grown through its own efforts, aided by seed funding from
international aid agencies, for extension and association building.15 The Government
of India does not provide subsidies for organic production and exports. However,


14
     British government challenged on support for organic market. The Soil Association. Press release.
     Patrick Holden, Soil Association Director, speaking at BioFach (15 February 2001).
15
     Pipo Lernoud, IFOAM World Board Member based in Argentina.
                                                    5


IFOAM Members, NGOs and private bodies encourage organic agriculture.16

13.    Developed countries’ subsidies may thus imply that products from developing
countries may face stiffer competition in international markets for organic products.

14.     Some other factors may adversely affect demand for products from developing
countries. First, consumers of organic food are increasingly placing emphasis on food
supplied locally supplied food. Second, the eastward enlargement of the European
Union will affect the organic food market in Western Europe. Many countries with
economies in transition in Central and Eastern Europe are in a similar position as
developing countries in the sense that their farmers use no agro-chemicals. For
example, a substantial share of agricultural output in Poland is effectively produced by
organic methods. If these countries join the European Union, their organic producers
would be in a strong competitive position vis-à-vis producers from developing
countries because of being relatively close to the main consumer markets and being
inside the EU market. This might imply that developing countries would run a
considerable marketing risk if increasing the output of temperate organic products to
serve the EU market.

Standards issues

15.     Issues related to standards require careful consideration. The International
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has been developing Basic
Standards that reflect the current state of organic production and processing methods.
According to IFOAM, these standards should not be seen as a final statement, but
rather as work in progress to contribute to the development of organic farming
throughout the world. IFOAM Standards have been developed, for example, for
agricultural production; animal husbandry; aquaculture and forest management. Both
private and official standards can play an important role in promoting organic
agriculture.17

16.     An increasing number of countries have developed national and/or regional
legislation for organic standards. EU Council Regulation No. 2092/91 on organic
production and labelling, which entered into force in July 1991, covers agricultural

16
     The Spices, Coffee and Tea Boards (all organizations of the Government of India) also support
     production and exports of organic products, for example through training, presentation at organic
     trade fairs ressearch and development and the promotion of certification standards. The Agricultural
     and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been promoting exports of
     organic agriculture products.
17
     In developing countries, voluntary standards and certification systems, developed with the
     involvement of farmers, developmental NGOs, traders and other stakeholders (often motivated by
     environmental and social objectives), play an important role in the promotion of organic agriculture,
     including the development of local and regional markets. They also help to raise awareness of the
     value of traditional knowledge and to allow local farmer communities to derive commercial benefits
     from organic agriculture. Such standards and certification systems should receive adequate attention
     in the development of national standards and certification system compatible with IFOAM and
     Codex Alimentarius.
                                                        6


products and foodstuffs from organic agricultural production. It was recently
amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 1804/1999 to also cover livestock
production. In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP), within the
United States Department for Agriculture, adopted a final regulation on organically
produced agricultural products in December 2000.18

17.     One concern is how to find a balance between the need for harmonization and
the need to take account of local and regional conditions and needs. According to
IFOAM, “organic agriculture is based on a close interaction between humans,
agriculture and the local ecological conditions. Therefore, organic agriculture can be
implemented differently in different areas…. It is a delicate balance to combine this
need for regional variations with the international harmonization that is necessary for
trade, fair competition and consumer trust in organic”.

18.      The concept of equivalence should help to reconcile regional variations in
organic standards with the promotion of international trade. Insufficient progress has
been made, however, in putting this principle into practice. This is shown by the
above-mentioned slowness in including more countries in the EU “third country
list”.19 Developing countries have a long history in organic production. Several
developing countries already have IFOAM-accredited certification bodies. There is a
need for political will to make greater progress in recognizing standards and
certification systems of developing countries.

Price premiums

19.    Price premiums are important incentives for many farmers to shift to organic
production. Experience from Brazil indicates that a few large exporters of organic
soya and sugar, who have well established marketing channels, have been able to
catch significant price premiums. No information is available, however, on price
premiums available for the numerous small farmers working with these large
exporters or for small companies exporting through other channels.

20.     Developments in market structures have a significant impact on who will
capture price premiums. In most OECDs and major product groups, a few specialized
organic traders tend to dominate imports.20 These traders may receive most of the
price premiums. To obtain a larger share of price premiums, producers and exporters

18
      http: //www.ams.usda.gov/nop
19
      It is too early to assess how equivalency will work out in practice in the United States. To enter the
      US organic market, certifying agents operating in foreign countries can seek accreditation or
      recognition. They may receive recognition (a) when USDA has determined, upon the request of a
      foreign government, that its authorities are able to assess and accredit certifying agents as meeting
      the requirements of the NOP or (b) under an equivalency agreement negotiated with the United
      States.
20
     ITC, op. cit. and M. Buley, An overview on the European market with special emphasis on Germany, paper
      presented at Export Seminars on Export Development of Organic Food and Beverages in Asia, ITC, 14
      September 2000.
                                          7


in developing countries need to design appropriate marketing strategies, seek more
direct links with retailers in importing countries, including through e-commerce, and
create partnerships. Fairtrade organizations also play an important role in helping
small producers to benefit from trade, including in the area of organic products.

21.     An important policy objective is to reduce certification costs for developing
countries. Several steps can be taken. Small countries, in particular the least
developed countries (LDCs), have difficulties in establishing national certification
infrastructure.   Assistance from donors, as well as cost-sharing with developed
country partners, for example in the framework of fairtrade and development projects,
may be the preferred option. Assistance could also be provided, including by
developmental NGOs, to small rural and indigenous communities in both LDCs and
other developing countries. Certification bodies operating in developing countries
should be encouraged to train local inspectors and other local personnel. For example,
Demeter and SKAL, the largest international certification bodies operating in India,
employ local personnel and inspectors.

22.    Developing countries with a relatively large organic potential should establish
national standards and develop a national certification system. Argentina, Brazil,
Costa Rica and Tunisia have already established national standards. Institutional
frameworks to promote certified organic agriculture are also important. In India, a
“National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)” has been established to
provide an institutional mechanism for production and export of organic food
products, taking into account the requirement of international markets. In Tunisia, the
proximity of the EU organic market has triggered a relatively quick policy response
from the Tunisian Government. Measures are being taken to encourage farmers’
conversion to organic production while remaining competitive.21

Policies

23.     From the analysis presented above it follows that comprehensive policies are
needed to ensure that developing countries can exploit their comparative advantage in
organic agriculture and derive trade, economic, social and environmental benefits
from increased demand for organic products in international markets. The
international community should support the efforts of developing countries in this
regard and open their markets for organic products from developing countries.
However, the commercial risks of embarking on a large-scale promotion programme
for organic agriculture also require careful attention, as building up standards and
certification infrastructure that is credible in developed countries will be expensive.

24.     The international community should also pay full attention to trade policy
issues. For example:


21
     Nadia Scialabba, op. cit.
                                                   8


    Governments should comply with their obligations under the WTO Agreement on
     Technical Barriers to Trade.22 They should also encourage private certification
     bodies to ensure that their organic standards and conformity assessment
     procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. There is also a need for
     effective application of the principles of equivalency and special and differential
     treatment for developing countries.
    Governments should carefully examine the impact of subsidy programmes on the
     competitiveness of organic products from developing countries. Subsidies that
     adversely affect exports of developing countries should be avoided;
    Developed countries should provide technical assistance to allow developing
     countries to meet standards for organic products in international markets;
    Possibilities to provide additional market access23 and trade preferences for
     organic products could be explored.

The role of UNCTAD

25.    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in
cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders has
been assisting developing countries in their efforts to promote organic production and
exports.24

26.     This is being done in the context of UNCTAD’s work on trade and
environment as well as commodities.25 Such work is carried out through UNCTAD
secretariat policy research, technical cooperation projects and consensus building at
the intergovernmental level. For example, an UNCTAD Expert Meeting,26 to be held
in Geneva from 16 to 18 July 2001, will inter alia address ways to enhance
developing countries’ production and export capacities of organic agricultural
products. The Expert Meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss a range of
relevant trade policy and other issues between experts (from Governments, private
sector, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders) and make

22
     WTO Member States have notified draft standards and regulations under Article 2.9.2 of the TBT
     Agreement. These notifications can be found on the WTO website.
23
     Recently, the US Department of Agriculture raised the specialty sugar quota from 4,656 tons in
     1998/99 to 14,656 tons in 1999/00, in large part, to accommodate the growth in organic sugar
     demand in the United States. Peter J. Buzzanell (Executive Director, Peter Buzzanell & Associates,
     Inc.) Organic Sugar: Short Term Fad or Long Term Growth Opportunity? For the International
     Sugar Organization, 9th International Seminar "Hot Issues for Sugar" November 21, 2000, London,
     United Kingdom.
24
     According to the Plan of Action, adopted by UNCTAD’s tenth Conference, UNCTAD’s work on
     trade and environment should inter alia focus on “supporting developing countries’ efforts in
     promoting production of and trading opportunities for environmentally preferable products.”
     (Paragraph 147, 5th bullet).
25
     UNCTAD, Organic Agriculture in Developing Countries: Potential for trade, environment
     improvement and social development. Report by the UNCTAD secretariat. UNCTAD/COM/88,
     July 1996.
26
     Expert Meeting on “Ways to enhance the production and export capacities of developing countries
     of agriculture and food products, including niche products, such as environmentally preferable
     products (EPPs)”,
                                                  9


recommendations to national Governments, the international community and the
UNCTAD secretariat.

27.      Of particular relevance is work carried out under UNCTAD/UNDP projects in
India and Viet Nam. Under the project “The Role of Business Partnerships in
      27


Promoting Sustainable Development” (IND/99/965), UNCTAD has commissioned
studies on organic pepper28, coffee,29 Darjeeling tea30 and rice.31 A workshop on
organic tea was held in Darjeeling on 11 May 2000. In addition, workshops on organic
spices and organic coffee were organized in cooperation with the Spices Board and
the Coffee Board, in Cochin on 23 August 2000. A publication containing the results
of this project is under preparation.

28.     Under the project “Trade, Environment and Development: Policy Implications
for Vietnam” (VIE/98/036), Vietnamese researchers have carried out a series of
studies on organic agricultural production and trading opportunities. Preliminary
results were discussed in the workshop on Exploring the Opportunities for Expanding
Vietnamese Organic Agriculture Export (Hanoi, 6 September 2000). The field
research carried out under the project has enhanced understanding of constraints and
opportunities for organic production in Viet Nam and identified products with the best
potential. Several recommendations have been made for a comprehensive national
strategy on organic agriculture, including linking such efforts with ongoing initiatives
in the area of “safe vegetable production (SVP).” A publication containing the results
of this project is under preparation.

29.    Opportunities for promoting production and exports from developing countries
have also been examined under the interregional project “Strengthening Research and
Policy-Making Capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries”.
(INT/98/A61).32 The theme was included in the agenda of workshops in Los Baños
(the Philippines), Havana and Dar es Salaam. Several papers33 have been prepared

27
     Atul Kaushik and Mohammed Saqib, A Study of the Impact of Environmental Requirements on
     India’s Export Performance and a Scoping Study for Environmentally Friendly Products. See in
     particular Section VI on Environmentally Friendly Products (in process of publication). Study
     carried for UNCTAD under projects IND/97/955 (funded by UNDP New Delhi) and INT/92/06
     (funded by the Government of the Netherlands).
28
     A. Damodaran (Indian Institute of Plantation Management), Constraints and Prospects of Organic
     Spices farming in India. Paper prepared for UNCTAD.
29
     A. Damodaran (Indian Institute of Plantation Management), Constraints and Prospects of Organic
     Coffee Farming in India. Paper prepared for UNCTAD.
30
     Atul Kaushik and Mohammed Saqib, op. cit. and A. Damodaran, Indian Institute of Plantation
     Management, Constraints and Prospects of Organic Tea farming in India. Paper prepared for
     UNCTAD.
31
     U.S. Bathia, Constraints of and Prospects for Organic Rice. Forthcoming.
32
     The project has been funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development
     (DFID) and implemented in collaboration with the Foundation for International Environmental Law
     and Development (FIELD). Ten developing countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, India,
     Philippines, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda) have been
     participating in this project.
33
     René Vossenaar and Veena Jha, Trading opportunities for organic food products from developing
                                                 1 0


that together with the conclusions and recommendations, will be published on the
UNCTAD web site. The main conclusions will be presented at the forthcoming
meeting of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment in June 2001.

30.    With the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in
Canada, UNCTAD is also implementing a technical co-operation project “Standards
and Trade” (INT/99/A64) on the effects of environment- and health related
requirements in developed country markets on exports of developing countries.34
Under this project, research teams from three developing regions (Central America,
South Asia and Southern Africa) are inter alia examining opportunities for increasing
organic agricultural exports. Preliminary results of work carried out in South Asia
were discussed in the joint UNCTAD/World Bank South Asia Workshop on
Agriculture, SPS, and the Environment: Capturing the Benefits for South Asia, held in
New Delhi, from 11 to 13 January 2001.

31.     Through these projects, UNCTAD inter alia seeks to help fill gaps in
information and analysis. Currently, most information on organic agriculture is
available from certification bodies, ministries, research institutes, certain import
promotion agencies, fairtrade organizations and some NGOs in developed countries.
Some information on commercial opportunities and policy developments is being
made available on a growing number of INTERNET websites. Intergovernmental
organizations, in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the
International Trade Centre (UNCTAD/WTO) also carry out analysis on organic
agriculture, in particular with a view to assisting developing countries. Lack of
objective information, however, remains a problem for the formulation of coherent
policies in developing countries aimed at combining export promotion with other
economic, social and environmental objectives.

32.     Therefore UNCTAD’s projects seek to collect additional primary and
secondary information, in particular from farmers, commodity boards, government
ministries and other stakeholders in developing countries. For example, the analysis
carried out under projects in India and Viet Nam is largely based on interviews with
producers/exporters, industry associations and government officials. In particular
these projects seek to collect information on supply factors, such as effects of
conversion from conventional to organic production methods on yields and costs,
availability of organic materials and fertilizers, and other factors. Attention is also
paid to the identification of institutional bottlenecks and possible policies aimed at
resolving them



     countries. Study prepared under the project “Strengthening Research and Policy-Making Capacity
     on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries”. April 2001.
34
     The main objectives are (a) to enhance understanding of the potential trade barrier effects of
     environmental, sanitary and health requirements and (b) to identify policies at the national and
     international levels aimed at avoiding that such measures have unnecessary adverse economic
     effects on developing countries.
                                                  1 1


33.     Taking advantage of trading opportunities (through increased market shares,
price premiums or a combination thereof) inter alia requires appropriate marketing of
organic food products. Therefore, the UNCTAD projects also examine trade
promotion policies, the role of NGOs in promoting trade in organic products and
possibilities for promoting more direct links between producers and buyers and
cooperation between producers/exporters in developing countries and
importers/consumer organizations in developed countries.

34.    There is now a need to work with a larger group of developing countries,
including the least developed countries (LDCs). The recently-created UNEP-
UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development
(CBTF) seeks to assist interested developing countries, in particular LDCs35, to take
advantage of trading opportunities for several categories of environmentally preferable
products, in particular organic agricultural products.36 CBTF will closely cooperate
with other relevant international organizations, such as the International Trade Centre
(UNCTAD/WTO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), producer
associations in developing countries, buyer groups in developed countries, NGOs and
other stakeholders. CBTF will promote training, national workshops, bilateral and
regional seminars and other activities with a view to assisting developing countries in:

      Creating awareness among producers and industry associations;
      Identifying existing and potential supply capacities for specific categories of
       EPPs;
      Identifying international market trends;
      Removing policy, market and technical obstacles, such as lack of information,
       insufficient technical capacity, and absence of supportive policies;
      Identifying policies and measures to make certification more affordable, in
       particular for small producers
      Promoting regional cooperation;
      Building partnerships between producers/exporters in developing countries and
       importers/consumer interests in developed countries;
      Participating effectively in relevant international debates.

35.    Apart from the above-mentioned expert meeting, the UNCTAD secretariat is
preparing workshops, including under CBTF, in Cuba, India and Viet Nam. A Latin
American regional workshop is under consideration.


35
      UNEP and UNCTAD have designed a special capacity-building programme for LDCs. This
      programme inter alia seeks to assist LDCs in developing exports for niche markets, in particular
      agricultural food products. Initial work has been carried out in the context of an UNCTAD project
      in Madagascar. See: UNCTAD, Le commerce international et la protection de l’environnement à
      Madagascar, Analytical Studies on Trade, Environment and Development, No. 2, Geneva, 2000
36
      CBTF activities will also be aided by the UNCTAD TrainForTrade 2000 package, which contains a
      Module on “Trading Opportunities for Environmentally Preferable Products”.

				
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