AETS recently organised a one-week study visit for officials from the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA). The study visit was requested by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade (DG TRADE) and fell under the scope of AETS’ ongoing contract with DG TRADE which aims to organise ad-hoc study visits for officials/policy makers from trading partner countries to support sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) policies.

DG TRADE had considered this study visit necessary to address new import conditions implemented by the UAE as of end May 2019. There is currently a strong trading relationship between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which the UAE is a member. From the point of view of trade, the GCC was, in 2016, the EU’s fourth largest export market. However, the new import conditions relate to food safety and would present a large additional financial burden on EU establishments exporting to the UAE. As such, DG TRADE requested that AETS organise a study visit to demonstrate the solidity and robustness of the EU’s food safety law and inspection measures, as well as to have an open dialogue regarding the newly introduced import conditions, so as to assist the two regions continue with their important trading relation.  

The visit took place in Austria, Denmark and Belgium, with visits to different European facilities, including two fruit juice processing plants and one dairy processing plant. These on-site visits enabled the UAE delegates to experience the practical aspect of the food safety controls and how they are implemented at different establishments in the EU.

In addition, a full day was spent in Brussels at the DG TRADE premises, with presentations and discussions from numerous officials of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), as well as officials from the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). Opening statements were made by Mrs. Ewa Synowiec, Director of DG TRADE, and closing remarks were delivered by the head of DG TRADE’s D3 Unit (Agriculture, Fisheries, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Market Access, Biotechnology), Mr. Flavio Coturni. The private sector was also represented with two presentations being made: one by the European Dairy Association; and the other by the European Fruit Juice Association – two areas which are specifically affected by the GCC’s new import conditions.
The visit, which appears to have opened the lines of communication and have yielded positive results, was organised and executed by three internal AETS experts, specifically Mr. Pietro D’Elia as the EU’s SPS expert, Mrs. Emmanuelle Hière as contract manager and Mrs Patricia Ferreira as organiser.