Kampala, Tuesday 18 December, 2018: COMESA in collaboration with the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and TradeMark East Africa have launched a regional initiative that will help strengthen the management of Standards and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures in the region through a programme called Prioritization of SPS investments for Market Access (P-IMA).
P-IMA is a five-year pilot programme which has been launched in Uganda and will be rolled out to Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda.
The programme is an evidence-based approach to inform and improve SPS planning and decision-making in the region. Its benefits include having enhanced public-private dialogue, evidence to support programme design and fundraising, high level awareness about value of investing in SPS capacity building, transparency and accountability and greater resource efficiency.
Speaking at the launch in Kampala, COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget described the regional SPS programme as an integral part of the regional integration agenda which includes the need to remove SPS trade barriers through equivalence and mutual recognition of SPS regulatory frameworks.
He has attributed the low intra-trade levels in the region to the varied SPS and Technical Barriers to Trade and regulatory frameworks across Member States and the low levels of compliance amongst regional Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
COMESA’s intra-regional trade currently stands at USD$17.5 billion which amounts to less than 10 percent of total trade with the world. A study done by the Secretariat shows that the region has a potential trade worth of USD$82 billion.
“Most of our Member States are heavily dependent on agriculture, fisheries and livestock so it is of paramount importance that the SPS programme is well managed at national and regional level so that we can push intra-trade upwards,” Amb. Cheluget said. This was during the opening of the High-Level Stakeholder Dialogue and Project Inception Meeting whose theme is ‘Mainstreaming SPS Priorities into National Policy’ in Kampala, Uganda.
Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Hon. Amelia Kyambadde commended COMESA Secretariat for taking the initiative to develop this collaborative regional project which builds upon the past initiatives in using evidence and engaging relevant stakeholders, to prioritise SPS investments and leverage support and resources to address SPS related challenges.
She said Africa today is grappling with SPS challenges which have continued to impact intra-Africa trade as well as the continent’s participation in global trade. The SPS challenges are manifest majorly in Fruits and Vegetables trade, Horticulture and Floriculture trade, Fish trade, Grain trade and Livestock and Livestock products (including poultry and eggs) trade. They include among others contaminants, pests and diseases; particularly, Aflotoxins, mycotoxins, fruit fly, Foot and Mouth disease among others.
“Non-compliance with SPS measures has cost our countries tremendous export opportunities, both at the intra-regional and the international level. You may recall the Fish ban of 1997 that cost Uganda 45Million USD and the recent interception of Fruits and Vegetables worth USD 60 Million by the European Union due to lack of compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards,” Minister Kyambadde added.
She has described the launch of P-IMA as timely to help Uganda and other COMESA countries to address challenges they are facing in complying with Sanitary and Phytosanitary requirements in the face of limited resources.
Ms Kyambadde demoaned Africa’s huge food import bill in the world, estimated at over $30 billion annually. The reasons for this are varied including the limited production capacities as well as market infrastructure and inconsistent policy regimes contributing to segmented markets.
The two cooperating partners STDF Deputy Head Marlynne Hopper and Trademark East Africa Senior Director Trade Environment Richard Kamajugo committed to work with COMESA to scale up relevant interventions to address SPS barriers and boost exports to regional markets and beyond.