In a bid to strengthen the capabilities of Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a three-day training workshop was held from December 12th to 14th, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The initiative, organized under the SADC-EU Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), aimed to enhance the understanding of MSMEs regarding the development and implementation of Standard and Technical Regulations.
Participants in the workshop received training on the significance of compliance with standards and technical regulations for trade, equipping them with the tools to access new and international markets.
Key topics covered included skills in Standards, Quality assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM), as well as principles of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). Furthermore, the workshop shed light on trade opportunities within different Free Trade Areas such as SADC, Tripartite, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The event facilitated discussions on auxiliary skills required for successful trade, emphasizing the importance of adherence to international trade rules. MSMEs were provided with valuable information on where they could seek assistance within their respective countries to increase their chances of penetrating new markets. Importantly, the workshop served as a networking platform, connecting MSMEs in the region and expanding the possibilities for cross-border business ventures.
The training showcased the commitment of the EU-SADC Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) to bolstering a significant number of MSMEs in the region. By empowering these enterprises, the program aims to unlock export opportunities, fostering job creation and contributing to poverty alleviation.
The SADC Protocol on Trade (2005), as amended, played a pivotal role in establishing a Free Trade Area in the SADC Region. This protocol aims to further liberalize intra-regional trade, promote efficient production, attract investment, and enhance economic development, diversification, and industrialization.
MSMEs, recognized as crucial drivers of successful economies worldwide, were highlighted for their contributions to revenue generation and job creation within their respective countries.
To ensure the effective participation of regional producers, with a specific focus on MSMEs, in trade agreements such as the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the availability of expertise, facilities, and accessibility to standards and quality services is imperative. Adherence to standards and technical regulations, coupled with the establishment of a robust quality infrastructure, are deemed essential components for successfully implementing a Free Trade Area.
The training initiative was organized under the SADC-EU Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), which is financed by the EU over a five-year period (2019-2024) with a budget of €15 million (US$16.45 million).
The TFP aims to support the implementation of SADC Protocols on Trade and Trade in Services to enhance inclusive economic development in the SADC Region through deepening regional economic integration, with a focus on increasing intra-regional trade flows.
Source: SADC Secretariat