EAC Partner States are knocking into shape Draft SPS Legal Framework and Measures

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EAC Partner States are knocking into shape Draft SPS Legal Framework and Measures

EAC Partner States are knocking into shape Draft SPS Legal Framework and Measures
Photo credit: EAC

The EAC Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, are knocking into shape a draft EAC Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Legal Framework and Measures.

In a four-day regional stakeholders meeting held from 22nd to 25th August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, Partner States Experts from Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Bureau of Standards, Plant Health Inspectorates, and Animal Resources critically reviewed and provided comments to improve and enrich the draft EAC SPS legal framework and the measures.

The meeting was also attended by officials from the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), USAID Regional Economic Integration Office, the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, and EAC Secretariat officials.

Addressing participants, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social sectors, Hon. Jesca Eriyo pointed out that SPS is a subject of fundamental importance to the region and that SPS measures had become an increasingly important topic of debate in international trade due to increasing awareness on food safety concerns.

The Deputy Secretary General noted that many people in the Community were not yet aware of SPS measures and therefore the need for Partner States to take drastic measures to disseminate SPS information widely. She urged Partner States to “work harder in order to achieve greater levels of competitiveness through diversifying the export base, adding value and enhancing the degree of compliance to the measures and standards prescribed in the destination markets”.

Mr. Protase Echessah, the Senior Agricultural Trade Expert, USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub underscored the collaboration between Hub and the East African Community which seeks to increase the competitiveness of select regional agriculture value chains and facilitate investment and technology that drives trade growth intra-regionally and to global markets. It is under this context that the Hub is supporting EAC to develop a regulatory framework to operationalize the SPS Protocol.

The Nairobi meeting recommended that EAC Partner States to work with relevant institutions to broadly harness the capacity and competencies required to inform and address regulatory matters on SPS. The meeting also urged the EAC Secretariat to expedite the process of securing Observer Status at WTO, OIE and IPPC in order to enhance its participation and role in SPS issues at international level.

Partner States were also urged to share relevant legal and policy documents with the Secretariat to enrich both the draft Bill. The EAC Secretariat is to convene another meeting of experts to finalize the EAC SPS Bill for presentation to the next Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security.


Background

Article 108 (c) of the EAC Treaty and Article 38 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union provide for the Partner States to harmonize Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in order to facilitate trade within the Community and other trading partners.

These provisions call for the need of EAC Partner States to put in place an effective SPS regime in order to control animal and plant diseases as well as facilitate trade. The objectives of the EAC SPS Protocol focus on promotion of trade in food and agricultural commodities in the EAC, strengthening coordination and cooperation in sanitary and phtytosanitary measures among EAC Partner States and enhancing sanitary and phytosanitary status through science based approach in the bloc. The EAC SPS Protocol was adopted in 2013 and a strong foundation aimed at supporting implementation of the SPS Protocol had been laid. A total of six sets of SPS measures have been developed and finalized.