Trade Briefs

The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) policies of the African Regional Economic Communities, and the way forward for the CFTA

The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) policies of the African Regional Economic Communities, and the way forward for the CFTA

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07 Jun 2017

Author(s): Abrie du Plessis

tralac, with the support of the Development Assistance section of the German Government through the Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), recently completed a comparison of the SPS policies of the African RECs. The study focuses on the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). To this was added the manner in which SPS matters are dealt with in the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and brief comparisons are made to Mercosur and EU practices. The full study will be made available under the auspices of the Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI).

This trade brief provides an introduction to the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and an overview of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) SPS Agreement, together with a brief list of general observations, identified issues and some recommendations on the way forward for the CFTA.

Generally speaking, the progress on developing an overall approach to SPS matters appears to have been slow, with a lot of ad hoc sector-based activity taking place instead. The Tripartite Free Trade Area also addresses SPS matters and the outcome of its negotiations contains important lessons.


This publication was supported by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) as part of their sub-Saharan Africa Working Group project on Upgrading of Quality Infrastructure in Africa.

Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of PTB or the Trade Law Centre NPC.