Comesa countries agree on Harmonised Standards to boost Maize Trade

Six Comesa countries dealing in maize and products have agreed on mutual recognition of each other’s standards certificates to ease trading.

The Comesa Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF) that was agreed on in Kampala on December 17 will see Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe provide analytical results and recognition of certificates of analysis issued by laboratories of these participating countries.

The C-MRF for trade in maize and maize products is meant to facilitate greater flexibility where regulatory frameworks differ, reduce trading costs and lower business compliance costs through mutual recognition of product standards and conformity assessment procedures. As such, the C-MRF will be a central instrument in driving deeper levels of regulatory policy co-ordination and integration between member states in Comesa.

The C-MRF is to be domesticated and implemented in the member states through mutual recognition agreements (MRAs), and it will facilitate a seamless trans-regional market and pave the way for a functional Free Trade Area and Common Market.

Thierry Mutombo Kalonji, Comesa Director of Agriculture and Industry, pointed to a lack of mutual recognition of technical standards and conformity assessment [testing and certification] as a persistent non-tariff barrier (NTB).

According to experts, without mutual recognition of standards and certificates of analysis, regulatory barriers persist, causing an unpredictable regulatory environment that comes at a high cost to traders and contributes to the growing informal trade, now estimated at over 80 per cent in some countries.

Countries with developed food control systems face difficulties trading with those with weak systems and hence staple foods crossing borders are subjected to conformity assessment procedures that come at a high cost to traders.

The regional procurement officer of the UN World Food Programme in charge of East and Central Africa, Simon Denhere, said that the C-MRF will do away with NTBs as they will not be asking for any other documents.

Source: New Times

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