Mr. Erik Wijkström is a Counsellor in the WTO Division on Trade and Environment. He joined the WTO Agriculture and Commodities Division in 1995 and thereafter worked in several areas of trace policy, including agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measure (SPS Agreement), trade and environmental policy, as well as trade and health policy. Mr. Wijkström’s main focus is in the area of non-tariff barriers, and specifically standards and regulations. He has a Master Degree in the area of agriculture and economics from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala, Sweden. He is currently responsible for matters relating to the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) at the WTO.
“Standards and regulations are of growing importance in international trade. These measures – which affect goods traded internationally, including dairy products – often concern the safety and/or quality characteristics of the traded products, or related process and production methods. Both governments and private sector may be the originators of such requirements. These types of measures, referred to as non-tariff measures, are of increasing importance to international trade policy as the relative importance of tariffs and other forms of support decline – albeit from a high level in the dairy sector. In the WTO, standards matters are discussed in the committees on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). While there have been no fully-fledged formal dispute specifically about standards and dairy in the WTO, several “specific trade concerns” have been raised in these Committees. Matters discussed include compositional requirements, shelf-life, labelling and certification practices – to give some examples. In the TBT Committee in particular there is growing attention being paid to health-related issues, many of which are related to non-communicable diseases. In this regard, one question is how dairy fits in this general trend where governments are increasingly regulating with an eye to life-style choices and nutrition.”