The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread economic distress in many countries around the world. For the first time since 2009, the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have declined in 2020. Alongside other sectors of the economy, such impacts are also being felt by the food and agricultural sector. The pandemic has affected food security and nutrition, supply chains, food and livestock production, and food safety.
“Food safety risks cannot be entirely eliminated but must be managed along the entire food chain, from farm to table. Reducing food safety risks requires collaboration across sectors, stakeholders and national borders” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
From a trade perspective, the most important aspects of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, signed on 27 June 2014, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), are the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and the food safety standards and technical regulations required for access to European markets. Georgia’s export to the EU is still rather limited, and one possible cause for this deficiency, amongst others, is the limited capacity to comply with food safety regulations and standards.
Since the Uruguay Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which introduced agriculture to the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiation table, there has been increasing policy interest and academic debate on food safety regulations and their effect on the agri-food trade. During the Uruguay Round, WTO members negotiated the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPSs) in the “SPS Agreement” and the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreements, which share common principles and rules with all member countries (Mayeda, 2004).
Land O'Lakes International Development is leading an innovative, demand-driven Safety and Quality Investment in Livestock (SQIL) project to improve food safety and quality within Georgia’s dairy and beef value chains. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (via Food for Progress) and aims to reduce losses, improve food safety and quality from farm to fork, and to boost competitiveness, productivity, and trade within the Georgian dairy and beef market systems.