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African Union / SPS Coordination Forum: Experts meet in Kigali to monitor interventions in Africa

A panel of experts and several institutions, met on 28-29 March 2023, in Rwanda in Kigali. They established a report of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) on the follow-up of their interventions in Africa.

During these two days, these ten people gathered in the country of Paul Kagame, exchanged among others on SPS measures essential to ensure the safety and quality of food, plants and animals. They discussed what the absence of SPS measures can mean for food safety, human, plant and environmental health. Investment in SPS measures is also discussed to improve consumer safety, boost intra-African trade, including food security and living standards on the old continent...

However, for investments in SPS measures to be more cost-effective, interventions must be targeted, complementary and coordinated. With this focused strategy, Africa can concentrate its SPS investments on the risks that really matter, thereby contributing to the continent's improved global competitiveness. To achieve this, the African Union SPS Coordination Forum has commissioned a study in 2022 to monitor the implementation of SPS interventions by continental and regional institutions. The project will identify several aspects, including: the various SPS interventions being implemented in Africa and their respective areas of focus; gaps in SPS interventions; and propose solutions to fill the identified gaps. The study will also identify synergies and complementarities in SPS activities in Africa for greater impact.

It should be recalled that beyond the integration of the continent's countries into international trade, the stakes within the African region are also colossal. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which officially came into force on January 1, 2021, aims to create a single market for the 1.3 billion people living on the continent. One of its objectives is the progressive elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods by state parties. Stimulating intra-African trade in agricultural products is an important issue that is reflected in various African Union commitments, including Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) with the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Growth and Transformation of Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Better Livelihoods. Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, based on sound science, aim to protect human, animal and plant life and health while eliminating unnecessary barriers to trade, i.e. without arbitrary or unjustified discrimination between countries with similar conditions. To achieve this dual objective of protecting consumer, animal, and plant health while promoting the expeditious achievement of the FTAA's objectives, SPS measures must be coordinated.

As African governments, AU institutions, and technical and development partners continue to invest in interventions to improve SPS systems in Africa, there is a need for continuous monitoring of SPS interventions to ensure that they are achieving their intended objectives.