Malawi has been challenged to develop and implement Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures to enhance regional and international export trade to grow the economy.
SPS are measures set by the World Trade Organisation to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.
The development follows the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) official project inception meeting on Monday in Lilongwe aimed at piloting tools to prioritise SPS Investments for Market Access (P-IMA).
The P-IMA aims to improve the planning and decision-making process on strategic public and private sector investments in SPS capacity that would enhance the country’s market access.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development controller of agriculture services Alexander Bulirani described the SPS as a technical barrier to trade and that it varies from country to country and across regions.
He said products are being returned from the export market because of the lack of SPS adherence.
He said: “Malawi’s exports comprise 80 percent from the agriculture sector and the country sells agricultural products such as oil seeds, fruits, horticultural crops, among others; hence, the country needs to come up with a prioritised list of products and invest in them.
“Countries with strong SPS systems are usually reluctant to trade with countries that have weak SPS systems even when they belong to the same regional trade grouping.”
Bulirani, said within one year, given funding availability from Treasury, Malawi should have its SPS tool working to impact the identified value chains.
Comesa director of industry and agriculture division Providence Mavubi noted that non-compliance with SPS measures has resulted in Comesa member States losing out on tremendous export opportunities both at national and intra-regional trade levels.
Malawi Mangoes general manager Charlie Leaper said the issue of SPS is critical to export trade and Malawi needs to work on such issues because they are looked at as specific serious requirements on export trade.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, recently, fruits and vegetables worth over $60 million were intercepted by the European Union and firms holding export licences have had some of their products, particularly chilies, intercepted and rejected due to the presence of pests and other hazards.