The two international bodies are set to strengthen cooperation to promote international food trade and safety in ways that improve peoples' nutrition and allow small-scale producers to have better access to international agriculture markets.
FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva warned that failure to reach a balanced solution on issues relating to production and trade of agricultural products could derail the international community's recently agreed sustainable development goal to eradicate world hunger.
During an event at the UN food agency's headquarters, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo added that small-scale producers in developing countries must access world markets.
"We seek to ensure that the global trading system works for all, that it is fair and balanced," said Azevêdo – adding that trading systems must work in a way "which supports growth and development and allows people to access the goods and services that they need.”
"When I visit developing countries, especially in Africa...business people tell me about the difficulties they face in meeting the required standards," the WTO Director-General said, adding that it is essential to provide capacity building for producers in developing countries – an area of work where the WTO and FAO are seeking to deepen collaboration.
"We look forward to ensuring fair trade of agricultural and food products through this stronger (FAO-WTO) cooperation," said Graziano da Silva.
"On the one hand trade is likely to play an increasing role in meeting the growing demand from food-deficit countries. On the other hand, greater trade openness may undermine the capacity of local people to produce their own food," the FAO Director-General added.
Graziano da Silva and Azevêdo both noted that the closer working relationship includes deepening their collaboration on trade and food safety, including a joint publication in 2016 which would deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures that curb the spread of plant and animal diseases during the transport for trade of agricultural products.
Other areas where the two organizations are seeking to reinforce their joint efforts include the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), capacity development initiatives to assist countries in the implementation of the Codex Alimentarius or which develops harmonised international food standards that protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade, and country level assistance to facilitate trade in safe and nutritious food.