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Comesa states to reap from new trade project

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

HOPEFUL —Msokera

Malawi is among countries expected to benefit from the $464,075 Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) Project undertaken by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

The project, titled ‘Mainstreaming SPS Capacity Building into the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and other National Policy Frameworks to Enhance Market Access’ is aimed at increasing market access for agricultural products.

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It is being implemented under the Prioritising SPS Investments for Market Access (P-IMA) framework.

Other countries to benefit under the project include Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Currently, intra Comesa trade remains low relative to other regions, at around 11 percent of total Comesa exports, with the majority of traded products being of low added value.

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In the statement, Comesa Director of Agriculture and Industry, Thierry Kalonji, attributed this to a lack of industrial diversification, existence of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) such as health standards requirements, supply side constraints and cumbersome border measures.

“Almost 70 percent of the reported NTBs in the region are constituted by Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and SPS measures, if they are not addressed, our countries will find it difficult to take advantage of the mega trade agreements such as the tripartite and continental free trade area,” Kalonji said.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Mayeso Msokera, said the project would help Malawi unlock its agricultural export potential.

Malawi in collaboration with other stakeholders commenced the application of the P-IMA approach in 2012 by identifying SPS-related challenges that needed to be addressed in the development of the prioritised export product clusters identified in National Export Strategy.

The P-IMA framework also led to the implementation of the Malawi Programme for Aflatoxin Control which aims at facilitating groundnuts export development by controlling levels of aflatoxins.

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