The first consignment of fresh Litchis from Madagascar to South Africa was exported on Wednesday 18th January 2017 signifying an important milestone in trade between the two countries. South Africa issued a 500 ton import permit for Litchis to be exported by Quality Mad of Madagascar to Fresh Mark of South Africa.

Chairman of the COMESA Council of Ministers and Minister of Trade and Consumption of the Republic of Madagascar Honourable Tazafy Armand, accompanied by Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya, Her Excellency Maud Vuyelwa Dlomo Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Madagascar witnessed the shipment.

The import demand by South Africa for high quality Litchis for which Madagascar is globally renowned for runs into thousands of tonnes which can easily be supplied by exporters from Madagascar whose total annual production of Litchis is 100,000 tonnes. In 2017, it is expected that increased exports of Litchis from Madagascar will take place thus contributing to increased intra COMESA, EAC and SADC tripartite Trade.

This first shipment of 512 kilograms of Litchis is a culmination of a project technically supported by the COMESA Secretariat with funding from the European Union. Initially the project was funded by DFID through Trade Mark Southern Africa (TMSA) as part of the COMESA, EAC and SADC Tripartite programs that are part of the Tripartite FTA which was launched on the 10th of June,2015 in Sharma El Sheik in Egypt.

Speaking on the occasion of the flagging off of the first shipment, Minister Armand thanked the COMESA Secretariat and the Government of South Africa for having worked with the Government of Madagascar and other stakeholders to meet the South African Sanitary and Phytosanitary requirements thus making it possible for Madagascar to export Litchis to South Africa. He stated that this was a practical demonstration of the benefits of the membership of Madagascar to COMESA and SADC.

In response, Ambassador Dlomo expressed happiness that the exports of Litchis to her country was testimony of the commitment of South Africa to increasing intra-regional and intra African trade .

Secretary General Ngwenya observed that innovative approaches were deployed to assist the exporters in Madagascar to meet the SPS export requirements by bringing together importers and exporters to work closely with the respective SPS regulatory authorities on meeting the requirements of the South African market.

He further stated that the lessons learnt from the project will be replicated in other regions of Madagascar that have export potential for not only Litchis but other agricultural products. The same innovative approaches applied to address the SPS requirements have been deployed with success by COMESA in other agricultural products that are traded among COMESA member States.