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SADC Addresses Challenges in SPS Management for EPA Member States

From March 4th to 8th, 2024, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat hosted a crucial capacity-building workshop in Lesotho aimed at enhancing understanding and implementation of food safety principles among member states participating in the European Union (EU) market.

The workshop sought to address hurdles faced by SADC EPA Member States in complying with Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements, crucial for exporting food products and agriculture commodities to the EU.

Under the EU SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa, improved market access has been granted for various sectors, including agriculture. However, challenges persist, primarily stemming from insufficient technical capacity to meet stringent SPS standards set by the EU.

Mr. Lebusetsa Pholosi of the EPA Unit at the SADC Secretariat emphasized the importance of addressing these challenges, noting that while the EU provides preferential access, non-compliance with SPS measures remains a significant barrier to trade. He highlighted the workshops as a crucial step in building capacity and awareness among stakeholders.

Ms. Nthabeleng Maphike of the Lesotho Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Business Development echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the limited growth in trade between Lesotho and the EU, particularly in products requiring higher value addition.

She stressed the importance of closing information gaps to enable more effective participation in the EU market under the EPA.

The workshops, funded by the EU and implemented by the SADC Secretariat through the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), aimed to engage stakeholders in identifying gaps in SPS implementation and raise awareness of SPS principles.

Government officials responsible for enforcing SPS measures, as well as private sector stakeholders including producers, processors, exporters, and importers, participated in these sessions.

The outcomes of the workshops will feed into the development of an SPS Implementation Plan by the SADC Secretariat. This plan will include recommendations for enhancing the SPS management system in SADC EPA Member States, facilitating smoother trade relations with the EU and promoting adherence to international standards.

Additional source: SADC Secretariat

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