Report on Beyond The Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan: Asian Gypsy Moth Joint Assessment
The Joint Assessment Process

The AGM program was chosen as a pilot under the BtB initiative for the development of joint assessment processes for plant health as it is an established program with a long history of U.S. and Canadian cooperation in the tri-lateral approach. This pilot project provided an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and challenges of the program, document the on-going assessment process and identify areas for program enhancements. The experience with the development of this program from its inception to date could serve as guiding principles for future tri-lateral programs.

The following are the key elements proposed for joint assessment based on the process prepared and developed during the AGM pilot study. The elements were identified by CFIA and APHIS officials involved in their respective country's AGM program. Based on past experiences, current discussion, and future outlook the AGM working group believe the following elements could be generally applicable in conducting joint assessments for the mitigation of agricultural risks from third countries.

I. Prior to conducting joint assessment and trilateral negotiations

  1. Teleconferences, as required, to ensure that agendas for meetings and site visits would provide what is jointly sought (i.e. Prepare questions/evaluations for assessments)
  2. Ensure that Embassy contacts for Canada and United States in the country being assessed are engaged with the same information at the same time. It is preferable that the U.S, and Canadian embassy contacts work together in delivering information and making arrangements with the third country's National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO).
  3. Canadian and U.S. presentations and other material provided before, during and after meetings should be complementary, as is possible and practical. This avoids duplication, reinforces a common approach and allows focus on particular program details for the United States and Canada.
  4. Key areas of divergence in policy and programs need to be identified and addressed before meetings with third parties. For example, CFIA and APHIS should agree beforehand on responses to anticipated questions from the third party where we have divergent views or policies or legislative reach. From the outset, identify areas where there are differences in regulatory reach, legislation, policy, philosophy, etc. This is particularly important when conducting an assessment on each other's behalf. What may be acceptable to Canada may not be acceptable to the United States and vice-versa.
  5. Pre-meeting with Canadian and U.S. Embassy staff
  6. Face-to-face review of agenda and itinerary to ensure that key points and gaps are identified and prepared
  7. Share roles (i.e. key points delivered as per expertise of delegates so as to ensure that all aspects of the joint message are covered and that full participation of delegates is facilitated)

II. Questions to be considered in developing joint phytosanitary assessment approach

  1. What are the goals of the off-shore program or system that we are seeking to clarify or strengthen?
  2. What are the overall requirements and are requirements common to both Canada and the United States - identify differences?
  3. How will we request the information that we need? (e.g. letter, teleconference, video-conference, face-to-face meetings, site visits, embassy meetings with NPPO, etc.)
  4. What are the indicators that the system is working? Are demonstrations or site visits required and if so has adequate time been allocated to schedule?
  5. How do we take mitigating measures when the system fails? (e.g. timely communication with NPPO and stakeholders, enhanced inspection at ports of entry, enhanced documentation, mandatory inspection reports from third country, timely and detailed feedback on instances of non-compliance back to NPPOs, timely communication between APHIS and the CFIA on non-compliances and issues, etc.)

III. Questions and activities to be considered during the joint assessment and/or tri-lateral negotiations

  1. Information exchange including a summary of inspection results and non-compliance
  2. Discussion of barriers to compliance (e.g. legislation, delayed departures, possibilities of re-infestation beyond control of NPPO, etc.)
  3. Discussion of training needs? How are inspectors trained and qualified - standardized training?
  4. Changes to requirements and/or implementation methodology and policy changes
  5. Discussion of mechanism for auditing of the certification bodies and significant findings from past audits.
  6. Knowledge gaps - are there opportunities for collaborative research? Are there training needs?
  7. Identify opportunities to engage with inspection and certification bodies, industry and scientists
  8. Determine appropriate communication formats, mechanisms and information/data sharing (e.g. directly with NPPOs, through embassy, etc.)

IV. Communicating results of joint assessment

The findings of the joint audit should be summarized in a report by those conducting the assessment. The report should include:

  • A list of participants and their contact information (for future communication and follow-up of issues)
  • Documentation of successes and issues of concern
  • Identification of follow-up actions, by whom and when
  • Identification of areas of agreement and disagreement
  • Identification of opportunities for further collaboration and cooperation
  • Recommendations for the CFIA, USDA, NPPOs and stakeholders
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