Non-tariff measures stifle Ethiopia’s export growth - survey

A new survey conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) has revealed that Ethiopia’s export sector is being held back by an array of non-tariff measures (NTMs).

According to the NTM business survey, 96% of trading companies in the East African country reported difficulties related to the application of NTMs, with exports being significantly more affected (90%) than imports (56%).

One-fifth of export-related challenges pertained to technical requirements imposed by either domestic authorities or trading partners.

“Many of the obstacles reported by Ethiopian traders relate to domestic policies and procedures [and] the Ethiopian government is thus in a position to address these obstacles by acting domestically,” said an ITC spokesperson. “For instance, Ethiopian export regulations, such as export clearance procedures, are pointed to by exporters as a major hurdle to trade.”

The survey found that much of the compliance burden was rooted in obtaining the necessary paperwork, delays in inspections, the lack of testing and certification infrastructure in the country, and the imbalance between the poor quality of local inputs against the high quality demand of international markets.

Additionally, product identity and quality requirements were shown to be the most burdensome obstacles faced by businesses.

The ITC noted that these regulations were designed to protect the health and safety of consumers.

“For agricultural products, these regulations define thresholds such as the percentage of coffee beans that may be broken or the amount of pesticide residue beyond which a food can no longer be deemed safe for consumption,” a statement reads. “For manufactured products, these regulations may impose limits on the use of chemical inputs.”

However, the ITC pointed out that meeting these requirements, and obtaining the related certification, was costly and time-consuming for traders.

In order to lower these trade obstacles, the ITC recommended that Ethiopia adopted policies that provided a comprehensive approach to quality improvements in order to match international quality standards - along with further monitoring and transparency of trade procedures.

Meanwhile, investment in laboratory infrastructure and training was identified as crucial to obtaining international accreditation as was the creation of an inter-agency mechanism to help facilitate trade by coordinating and harmonising regulatory reforms.

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