Lack of harmonisation and sanitary standards hampers Comesa agri exports

Following a re-negotiation last year, SA now imports avocados from Kenya.

Major agricultural import markets such as the Far East, Europe and South Africa are “hesitant” to trade with many Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries due to a lack of harmonisation in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards.

This was highlighted in an article by the East African newspaper citing Comesa assistant secretary general, Kiyego Cheuget, as saying that a lack of investment in SPS affects countries' trade with each other and is a major contributor to the continent's importation of agricultural produce worth US$35 billion.

He explained that this created trade barriers as goods could, for example, be prevented from moving from Tanzania to Kenya because the two countries used different standards. “This also affects the ability of Comesa countries to access some high value markets like the European Union and the United States,” he added

Head of Comesa’s SPS sector, Martha Byanyima, agreed, highlighting in the latest Comesa newsletter that Comesa member, South Africa, did not import many agricultural products from the rest of the continent.

"South Africa is a big market that is not importing agricultural produce from Comesa countries because they don't trust partner states' practices," she said, adding that Kenya was an exception due to its Plant Health Inspectorate Service.

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