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Nairobi, Monday, April 8, 2017: Experts from COMESA Secretariat and Heads of Bureaus of Standards from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda conducted a joint review of the COMESA Mutual Recognition Framework, an instrument meant to facilitate greater flexibility in trading of maize and maize products.

The review meeting held in Nairobi, on 2- 4 May 2017, as well discussed the draft COMESA Mutual Recognition Agreement (C-MRA) on conformity Assessment before its submission to the respective governments for signature. The signing will pave way for the implementation of the COMESA Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF).

The C-MRF was launched in December 2015 by six COMESA States which have significant maize trade namely Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It was expected that by early 2016, they would have proceeded with negotiations for signature of the full MRA on conformity Assessment for trade in maize and maize products.

However, there has been slow uptake of the C-MRF by the six countries.

C-MRF was developed after recognizing that regulatory impediments to intra-COMESA trade especially for grain and grain products continue to undermine efforts by regional states to reap the benefits of economic integration and grow their economies.

The C-MRF for trade in maize and maize products is meant to help where regulatory frameworks differ by reducing trading costs and lowering business compliance costs through mutual recognition of product standards and conformity assessment procedures.

The MRF stipulates a series of continuous activities as a means to verify and confirm on-going mutual trust and confidence amongst the participating member States and stakeholders.

COMESA Secretariat supports a capacity building programme in the six states to facilitate implementation of the C-MRF by ensuring they participate in the aflatoxin proficiency testing scheme to identify existing capacity gaps.

This includes training and providing technical support to close the identified capacity gaps including, sample preparation, stability and homogeneity, maize grading, aflatoxin analysis and validation of testing methods among others.

COMESA Secretariat is also facilitating negotiations for signing of the full MRA on conformity assessment for trade in maize and maize products between the six countries by end of this year.