The OECD Agricultural Codes and Schemes facilitate international trade through the simplification and harmonisation of documentary, inspection and testing procedures. For Seeds and Forests, the Schemes encourage the production and use of seeds or plants of consistently high quality for which trueness to name or source is guaranteed. For Tractors, the Codes enable an importing country to accept with confidence the results of tests carried out in another country, and in the case of Fruit and Vegetables, the Scheme promotes uniform classification and quality control procedures.
The Codes and Schemes were created in the early 1960s, and the number of participating countries has been constantly rising. The Codes and Schemes are open to any OECD or non-OECD country that is a member of the United Nations or of the World Trade Organization. In addition to the OECD countries that are all members of at least one of the Codes and Schemes, participation currently encompasses 29 non-OECD Economies, including some of the major players in world trade. The groups work closely with the UN family, especially the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), as well as specific non-governmental and industrial organisations.
The overarching objectives of the Codes and Schemes are to simplify existing international trade procedures; increase transparency, reduce technical barriers to trade; contribute to international harmonization of standards, environmental protection; and, to increase market confidence through enforcement of quality control and inspection procedures, as well as the traceability of the traded products.
The objectives are achieved through ongoing dialogue with the designated authorities of Member Countries, Observers and, stakeholders including farmers, industry and trade.