Coffee forms an important component in the export basket of Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the African continent. Any adverse situation in global trade in coffee is bound to reflect on the economy of that country. Unusual levels of pesticide residues in coffee consignments exported to Japan during the year 2008 from Ethiopia created a furore resulting in a ban by the importer till the safety issue is addressed satisfactorily. That Japan has consented to help Ethiopia to improve the quality of coffee shipment, through bilateral technical cooperation augurs well for the coffee industry in that country.
"Japan halted deliveries of coffee from Ethiopia in May 2008 after finding "abnormally high" pesticide residues in a shipment of the beans. Japanese officials demanded that Ethiopia find the source of the chemical and prevent future contamination. Ethiopia is Africa's biggest coffee producer. Japan had previously purchased about 20 percent of the country's exports, making it the nation's third-largest market after Germany and Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian Trade Minister Girma Birru said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa, in February last year. Ethiopia exported $525.2 million of coffee in the fiscal year ending July 7, 2008, according to the Trade Ministry".
Such type of safety issues can mar international trade unless they are resolved quickly. The biggest problem for many developing countries is to determine whether such quality issues raised frequently are out of bonafide concerns or just a TBT measure by the advanced countries to further their selfish interest. Of course WTO has the necessary mechanism to solve such issues if referred to by the affected country.