FratiniVergano’s latest issue of Trade Perspectives© is published
The first article addresses the issue of WTO reform and details points raised by the US earlier this year, as well as reform proposals recently submitted from the European Commission to EU Member States. The article first provides some background information on the EU’s reform proposals and then discusses the three areas dealt with therein: 1) WTO regular work and transparency; 2) Rulemaking in the WTO; and 3) WTO Dispute Settlement. Finally, the article notes that, as a result of the meeting between US President Trump and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, an ‘executive working group’ was set up, which is reportedly also supposed to deal with issues related to WTO reform. The article concludes that in view of the global ‘trade war’ and a soon-to-be paralysed WTO Appellate Body, clear proposals are important to drive the process forward and progress must be achieved well before the next WTO Ministerial Conference to be held at the end of 2019.
The second article addresses the debate on better food labelling enforcement and stronger rules in the EU. The article discusses a letter of 16 June 2018 by European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to national ministers in the EU Member States and calling for tougher enforcement actions on food labelling. The letter was sent in response to a report from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), calling for increased regulation and arguing that food manufacturers use “grey areas” in EU legislation to “sugar coat” the true characteristics of their products. The article details BEUC’s report and the Commissioner’s letter, related to three main areas: 1) Quality: Attractive descriptions or images (e.g., ‘traditional’, ‘artisanal’), which convey an impression of quality that bear little or no relation to the production process of the food/drink; 2) Fruits: Pictures of fruit being used to market foods with little or no fruit content and selective promotion of expensive fruits on the front of pack with low actual content; and 3) Labelling as ‘whole grain’: Products with hardly any actual whole grain content. The article concludes that while there are numerous occasions where there is lack of enforcement of existing food information law in the EU, no new EU level rules might be needed if EU Member States’ actually enforced the existing rules.
The third article addresses a WHO report on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which calls for actions to reduce salt intake, including labels on food high in fats, sodium, and sugars. The report ‘Time to deliver’ by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Independent High-Level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) lists a series of recommendations that aim at reducing human mortality rates associated to NCDs. The article focusses on the recommendations that aim at reducing citizens’ salt and sugar intake, as a step towards a healthier diet. The article then discusses, in more detail, the issue of ‘front-of-pack’ (FoP) labelling, which is highlighted in the report and already lead to concerns in Italy. The article concludes, that although the WHO report only makes recommendations, the adoption of such recommendations could have a significant impact on the food industry. The implementation of any action, such as additional FoP labelling, should maintain or achieve a certain degree of consistency.