Zimbabwe to improve health and safety compliance with support from ITC, European Union
(Geneva-Harare) – Zimbabwean exporters will soon be better equipped to meet health and safety standards in international markets, following an announcement by the European Union that it would provide €950,000 to the International Trade Centre (ITC) to strengthen the country’s national sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) framework.
Even when tariff barriers in a given market are low, an inability to prove compliance with rules such as those specifying acceptable pesticide residue levels can prevent otherwise-competitive developing country producers from exporting. The Strengthening Zimbabwe’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Framework project is seen as crucial for the country’s businesses to fully enjoy market access under the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA), which lowers trade barriers with the EU.
To address these issues ITC with will work with the EU and local partners to strengthen the capacity of key sanitary and phytosanitary-related institutions in Zimbabwe, and boost the capacity of the country’s producers to comply with standards and technical regulations.
ITC will intervene at multiple levels. An initial focus will be on improving knowledge of technical and sanitary and phytosanitary export requirements among producers and local authorities. Inspection agencies will be strengthened and government testing laboratories built or upgraded to ensure that they are able to ensure the correct application of sanitary and phytosanitary practices across Zimbabwe.
Mr. Ashish Shah, ITC’s Director of Country Programmes, said: ‘This project is a very significant intervention and is important for Zimbabwe’s businesses as they look to re-ignite trade with companies in the EU. Adhering to SPS regulations is crucial to increase market access and expand trade while also protecting human, animal and plant health.’
Ambassador Philippe Van Damme, Head of the EU Delegation in Zimbabwe, said: ‘To access the EU market, exporters must conform to EU technical and safety standards. To fully exploit the potential of the EU market – and to be competitive – products coming from high-production cost environments such as Zimbabwe, must also meet high quality standards.’
He added: ‘The EU is a huge market and therefore presents great opportunities for Zimbabwean agricultural producers. As we speak, Zimbabwe's agricultural exports to the EU are on the rise and this project is launched at an opportune time.’
A particular focus of the project will be to assist with the implementation of a Zimbabwe Good Agricultural Practices (Zim-GAP) methodology, which will help Zimbabwean farmers produce goods in line with recognized international sanitary standards.
The aim of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Zimbabwe, which also includes Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, is to eliminate duties and quotas on trade between the two parties. The EU granted tariff-free access to its own market immediately; the four developing countries committed to gradually lowering their own import duties over a multi-year period.
Zimbabwe ratified the iEPA in May 2012, but the country faces challenges both with putting in place the necessary legislative frameworks and procedures for implementation, and with building capacity among its producers and exporters to take full advantage of access to the European market.
Note for the Editor
About ITC - ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
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