The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently launched an online system that modernizes the way the agency informs the U.S. agricultural industry regarding changes in international food and agriculture regulations that could affect U.S. exports.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires member countries to submit notifications regarding proposed changes to their food regulations, enabling other countries to review and comment on the proposals. The data management system will help U.S. exporters and other stakeholders to more effectively monitor, evaluate and comment on the measures, keep track of comment deadlines and locate archived information.
“The development of this system provides users with one-stop shopping,” said Michael Francom, the FAS International Regulations and Standards Division deputy director. “Using the system, industry members can access the WTO notification and the underlying measure and submit feedback for us to consider as we draft our official U.S. government comments. They can also query the system for measures from different countries or those dealing with a specific commodity.”
Previously, stakeholders were unable to access this information in one place. Often times, some industry members were unaware of the measures U.S. trading partners proposed because of the challenges of tracking down the different pieces of information, Francom explained.
After a successful public pilot program in early 2012, FAS officials debuted the system during the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC) workshop in November and at meetings of USDA’s trade advisory committees.
“So far feedback has been very positive. U.S. exporters and other stakeholders believe the system will be an important tool in their trade policy tool kit,” Francom said.
Currently, more than 40 organizations are signed up for to use the system. They include trade associations, industry groups and private companies. Before accessing the system, users need to register for a USDA eAuthentication account at https://identitymanager.eems.usda.gov/registration/index.aspx. Once users are confirmed – within 24 hours – they may access the system at https://apps.fas.usda.gov/sps_tbt_dms/.