Saturday, 6 February 2016

Just what the hell is CCFICS22?


As regular readers will know I spend an awful lot of time banging on about those global organisations that make up the basis of not just EU rules but the whole global trading framework. Just recently we explored the significance of eTIR from UNECE on this very blog. In this we have noted how relationships between these organisations drives global harmonisation of trade.

We have also noted how this dynamic is critical to understanding the influence of Norway outside the EU. And as anyone who follows my Twitter account knows, I am prone to tweeting all manner of obscure matters to do with the maritime sector. I am also keeping a very close eye on Codex Alimentarius who appear to be gradually merging with the UN Food an Agriculture Organisation.

The rather cryptic tweet from today reveals something of great significance. Or rather it prompts me to ask, just what the hell is CCFICS22? It is the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems. Now when you add that together with the eTIR system you are looking at pretty much the basis of a global single market.

The tweet pictured above refers to a conference this week where all member nations submissions are considered and debated. If we look at the agenda items we find a submission that is most illustrative.

At the end of last year, LeaveHQ brought to our attention the significance of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. This is essentially a global effort to remove technical barriers to trade (TBT). This is where the main efforts are going in order to improve global trade. What we find on page two is a section devoted to the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement will focus attention on the performance of border agencies, including those responsible for assessing adequacy of SPS certificates and documentation accompanying traded animal products.

10. The OIE is well aware of examples that illustrate room for performance improvement in this area, and we therefore expect to see further attention to measurement of consignment compliance with certification requirements, and efficiency of resolution of non-compliances by the relevant authorities.

We also recognise that effective prevention of fraud associated with trade in animal products, bioterrorism, and smuggling endangered species all depend on strong collaboration between the government agencies responsible for effective and efficient certification of traded animals and animal products.

11. OIE is exploring options with relevant counterpart organisations to improve performance in this area, and a revised cooperation agreement between the World Customs Organisation and the OIE was signed in June 2015.
Without getting too hung up on the substance we can see that they are talking about key areas of harmonisation and integration. It's the bit I have emboldened that really interests us. Through the framework of the WTO we see yet another of those inter-agency agreements that bypass the nation state entirely (and trade bloc for that matter), taking submissions from pretty much anybody who wants to participate. (Unless you're in the EU, in which case, tough luck).

If fact, the next agenda item is to do with the "Harmonisation of OIE and Codex approaches to standard setting in the food production continuum". As to what the OIE is, it's the World Organisation for Animal Health. That's a new one on me, I didn't know it existed, but then most of these organisations I keep discovering are entirely news to me.

Essentially, this notion that the future is inter-regionalism with trade deals happening between blocs overlooks what really goes on in the shadows which is of far greater importance. Granted, it's no deliberate secret, it's just that nobody thinks to look. After all, who apart from us nerds have even heard of Codex Alimentarius. Indeed, I have seen some comical tweets accusing the organisation of being some kind of secret globalist conspiracy, and given the extent of what it does and the curiosity of the name, the man in the street could be forgiven for thinking it was.

The product of all this back room tinkering is landmark incremental agreements that transform global trade that have supremacy over any regulations within the EU's own internal market. Thus, outside of the EU, so long as we conform to these global conventions and standards, and as long as there are recognised conformity assessment systems in place, there is little excuse for the EU to deny access to markets even if we did seek a non-EEA Brexit route. This, incidentally, is why there is to be no bonfire of regulation and why the Leave campaigns are barking up the wrong tree.

And as I repeatedly point out, all this is the very essence of global trade talks now. Tariffs are just old hat. And that is why the likes of John Redwood and Daniel Hannan (and the other dinosaurs) have only a very simplistic idea of what constitutes modern, comprehensive trade agreements. They think removal of tariffs is the be all and end all of securing a Free Trade Agreement. They are off their tiny rockers.

Were they to bring all this global activity to light they could win just by demonstrating the increasing irrelevance of the EU, and how our membership of the EU restricts our presence and our vote on such matters of grave importance at the top tables. This happens on matters of food, transport, road safety, maritime pollution, labour rights, health and safety and most other technical areas where the EU finds an excuse to assume exclusive competence.

With this in mind, I am even more cautious of  Martin Durkin in that he has largely rejected criticisms of his forthcoming film and once again shows us he is not even close to understanding the basics of the issues. He is likely to trot out the usual tragic eurosceptic memes.

Durkin denies he is seeking to use all the usual talking heads, but unless he truly understands the essence of what's happening as illustrated in this post, then his film has the potential to do enormous harm to the cause. If we're just going to get the "regulation is baaaad" nonsense then it's a waste of everyone's time.

And while I may expose myself to accusations of deformation professionelle this matter is far more central to the referendum than most truly realise. It is the secret weapon the opposition is not prepared to argue and wouldn't have a leg to stand on if it did. It is our smoking gun that it is the EU that is the law take and not a law maker. It makes the case that our influence in rule making is not diminished outside the EU and it is instrumental in showing that the EU is a redundant entity. This very subject is worthy of a film all of its own.

The problem here is that Leavers are reluctant to unlearn their arguments and step our of their comfort zone. They would rather lose with what they know than take a shot at winning. It is for that reason my criticism of them is relentless. Time is running out and there is no sign yet of the penny dropping. It probably won't either - and that's a terrible shame for all of us.

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