Required competences of Veterinary Services for international trade

Veterinary Services play a critical role in facilitating the international trade of animals and animal products by preventing the spread of diseases. In the current changing world, they face numerous challenges. To better identify and address them, the OIE Technical Item for 2020 provides an evaluation of current challenges and demonstrates how the OIE’s diverse programmes are instrumental in building targeted capacities amongst national Veterinary Services.

Paris, 18 August 2020 – The access to international markets is very important for the economy of many countries. When it comes to the trade of live animals or animal products, several aspects come into account, in addition to economic drivers. They notably include potential risks of disease transmission or questions linked to animal welfare. This can create barriers to trade, which should be justified in accordance with international regulatory frameworks.

Understanding and complying with international regulatory frameworks for trade is an important development pathway for countries participating in international trade.

Trust and confidence between the Veterinary Services of trading partners is the key factor for the safety and fairness of trade. It must be developed and maintained throughout the entire trade process on the basis of three pillars: transparency, good governance and the quality of Veterinary Services.

The OIE Technical Item for 2020 discusses the role and activities of Veterinary Services as a critical feature of safety and fairness of trade, and reveals their challenges and some examples of best practices. Additionally, it details the benefits of international regulatory cooperation for Veterinary Services who currently engage in or aspire to expand trade activities. The findings result from a qualitative analysis of OIE Members’ experiences. These were gathered through interviews and different data sources, from the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as from the OIE, notably from PVS Pathway mission reports, the Official status, and Self-declarations of health status.


 Dr Thanawat Tiensin, rapporteur of the OIE Technical Item for 2020 introduces its main concepts in this short video and details what is at stake in international trade of animals and products of animal origin. The in-depth presentation was planned for the OIE General Session in May 2020, which has been cancelled due to the sanitary situation.

Veterinary Services contribute to a safe and conducive environment for trade operations. Their role in the international trade of animals and animal products is complex and requires a wide range of legal, institutional, technical, collaborative and policy competencies. Today, in the face of the varying international trade regulations, along with opportunities and common difficulties encountered, it is crucial to ensure that the Veterinary Services understand and are well prepared to fulfil their role.

The OIE’s capacity development role for Veterinary Services provides the support required by our Members to enable their participation in the international rules-based systems for safe trade in animals and animal products.

The international rules-based system for safe trade

International regulatory frameworks exist to find a common basis of dialogue and facilitate negotiations between exporting and importing parties. They contribute to finding agreement on requirements that are “fit for purpose” and help avoid the creation of inappropriate and unnecessary barriers to trade. Amongst them, OIE International Standards provide recommendations on the sanitary measures necessary to ensure the safe trade of animals and animal products. Evidenced-based and adopted by all OIE Members, these standards are recognised as references for the WTO.

Constraints encountered by Veterinary Services

The Technical Item constructs an in-depth analysis on the challenges facing Veterinary Services in relation to imports and exports, across all phases of the trade process: before trade commences, the negotiation process, and when trade is occurring. The major constraints identified for export are related to the insufficient technical capacity and training of Veterinary Services, in addition to limited infrastructures for diagnostic testing and surveillance, and inappropriate legal frameworks.

Therefore, it remains essential for countries to continue building accurate capacities of these Services.

Amongst the solutions presented, better engagement with the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) is a good practice that can strengthen a country’s capacity to export.

OIE Capacity Development initiatives for trade

The findings were also used to develop recommendations that will improve the delivery of OIE’s Capacity Development programme for the benefit of OIE Members. Three activities were identified as key to move forward, namely the OIE PVS Pathway, the OIE Observatory and the OIE Training Platform.

  • The PVS Pathway for the sustainable improvement of Veterinary Services allows for the identification of the strengths and areas for improvement of national Veterinary Services, and recommends solutions specifically adapted to each country context. This mechanism, created more than a decade ago, has been recently upgraded to better respond to country specific needs.
  • The OIE Observatory will analyse the way in which OIE Standards are used with the aim of better understanding the challenges Members face and how to better accompany them through our different capacity-building programmes. The data collected will provide a solid basis on which to build a common language amongst Members, particularly in international trade. This Technical Item has emphasised that the Observatory can serve as an overarching analytical mechanism for the data and intelligence received from Members through multiple channels.
  • The OIE Platform for the Training of Veterinary Services was created in 2018 to assist the reform of the OIE training system. This Platform, together with its Training Portal, is the mechanism through which all future OIE training activities, both in distance and in person, will be developed, coordinated and monitored, using a competence-based approach. Its content will be tailored with the information collected through the PVS Pathway and the OIE Observatory.

These three programmes are closely correlated and should be recognised as a coherent whole, efficiently serving the interests and needs of OIE Members according to their personalised trade profiles and gaps.

OIE’s Members and network are warmly invited to read the full OIE Technical Item for 2020 and explore the related resources on the dedicated webpage.