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The East African : Nov 3rd 2014
The EastAfrican 44 BUSINESS NOVEMBER 1-7,2014 HARMONISED LAWS: INTERNAL ENFORCEMENT LAX New deal allows EAC, EU to impose phytosanitary measures on imports The ag≥eement sets out the ≥ules fo≥ food safety, plan and animal health standa≥ds that the blocs must adhe≥e to A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican T he East African Community and the European Union will have the sovereign right of imposing sanitary and phytosanitary measures on certain products exported into their markets. According to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed between the EU and the EAC this month, the measures can also be imposed by an individual country belonging to either bloc for safety reasons. The majority of the products targeted are animal and plant products. However, the agreement requires the party imposing the measures to consult the other prior to the introduction of the new sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), through the notification mechanisms provided for in the agreement. The parties must also ensure that the introduction, alteration or modification of any sanitary and phytosanitary measure in their territories is based on scientific justifications and in accordance with the World Trade Organisation SPS Agreement. Some exporters from the EAC have complained about the strict measures imposed by the EU terming them a protectionist strategy by the 27-member trade bloc. Recently, the EU enhanced its surveillance measures for fresh produce exports from the region after it was discovered that some of the products exported exceeded the maximum residue levels recommended by the trade bloc. Some companies were temporarily banned from exporting fresh produce to the EU. Christophe De Vroey, EU trade and communication counsellor, defended SPS measures taken by the bloc saying they were necessary to trade. “The SPS measures that are being taken by the EU are WTO compliant, transparent, science based and in proportion to the risks involved. Above all, these measures are non-discriminatory. They apply to EU producers and foreign importers alike,” said Mr De Vroey. The official added that if, for example, an EU producer uses pesticides above the authorised EU maximum residue levels, his products will likewise be destroyed. The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards. According to the WTO agreement, SPS allows countries to set their own standards, but emphasises that regulation must be based on science. “They should be applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health. And they should not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between countries where identical or similar conditions prevail,” the agreement adds. However, countries are allowed to set higher standards based on adequate assessment of risks so long as the approach is not arbitrary. Francis Wario, a technical manager at the Fresh Producers Exporters Association of Kenya, sees no problem with SPS regulations, saying countries are allowed to come up with such laws to protect consumers and the environment. According to the EPA agreement, the EAC and EU shall recognise on a case-by-case basis designated areas, that are free from pests or diseases, or areas of low pest or disease prevalence, as potential sources of plant and animal products. Unlike the EU, the EAC’s SPS regulation is weak and needs to be strengthened to help member countries boost exports of certified agricultural products. To help Kenya improve its safe- ty standards, the EU recently launched a €12 million ($15.2 million) standards and SPS project referred to as the Standards and Market Access Programme (SMAP) which focuses on developing appropriate and relevant standards and technical regulations for plant and animal based products. It is also expected to help the country build institutional capacity in biosecurity, risk profiling and surveillance with the aim of improving SPS compliance. The major beneficiaries, Mr De Vroey said will be Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (Kari). The EPA also requires that parties aim to achieve harmonisation of their respective rules and procedures for formulation of their SPS measures, Tanzania govt, O≥yx di≠e≥ on management of oil ≥ese≥ve By ROSEMARY MIRONDO Special Correspondent TANZANIA PLANS to start a strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) at the Tanzania Italian Petroleum Refinery (Tiper) by January. But the government and Swiss company Oryx Energies, who jointly own Tiper, have differed on who should manage the reserve. Ministry of Energy and Minerals resource commissioner Stanley Malisa said they were in negotiations with the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), which has the mandate to manage the storage facility, and an Omani company on when to start supplying the reserve. “The plan is to have at least 50,000 metric tonnes stored monthly once the SPR kicks off,” he said. According to Mr Malisa, the Petro- leum Act of 2008 stipulates that the government should have a strategic petroleum reserve under TPDC management immediately. He added that some of the Tiper tanks were currently undergoing renovation Management Mr Malisa said the bone of conten- Workers harvest flowers for export in Kenya. The EAC is expected to adopt the new sanitary and phytosanitary measures Picture: File SPS MEASURES The agreement requires the party imposing the measures to consult the other prior to the introduction of the new sanitary and phytosanitary measures through provided mechanisms. The parties must also ensure that the introduction, alteration or modification of any sanitary and phytosanitary measure in the including inspection, testing and certification procedures in accordance with the WTO SPS Agreement. “The EAC will develop, with the support of the European Council, a programme and timeframe for harmonising its SPS standards,” says the document. “Harmonised laws will improve the region’s SPS monitoring system, which in my view is still weak. An efficient monitoring system is definitely good for trade, both within and outside the region,” George Mwangi, an agriculture economist said. Last month, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Karanja Kibicho, said that though Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi belong to the least developed countries category, meaning their goods can access the EU market territories will be based on scientific justifications and in accordance with the World Trade Organisation SPS Agreement. EAC and EU shall recognise on a case by case basis designated areas, which are free from pests or diseases, or areas of low pest or disease prevalence, as potential sources of plant and animal products. duty free even without an EPA agreement, meeting the trade bloc’s stringent sanitary and phytosanitary measures remains a major hurdle for all. Mr Wario concurred that some exporters find it difficult to access the EU market because the monitoring system in place works effectively. “For example, it is easy to regulate the level of pesticides in fruits destined for export because the rules require laboratory tests and the products to becertified that they are safe for human consumption before they are allowed into the EU market,” he said. However, the regulations are not strictly applied for products destined for the local market and this is a problem facing all the EAC countries. By Jeff Otieno and Christabel Ligami tion between the government and Oryx is that when the latter acquired its 50 per cent stake, the agreement was that it would manage the facility while the government remained a silent partner because, back then, Oryx had experience and expertise in managing refineries. However, since Tiper stopped refin- ing and became a storage facility, the government feels that it would be in the interest of both parties to change the management, currently under Oryx, to an independent one. The government sent a draft copy of its recommendations to Oryx mid last year seeking to sign the new agreement, but Oryx responded disagreeing to the clause on independent management. Negotiations are ongoing and the minister said this would not affect the SPR once it takes effect as all decisions will be under TPDC and logistics will be handled by Tiper under its current management until they come to a decision. Tiper managing director, Daniel Belair said that he could not comment on the matter as the decision on independent management was currently under discussion between the two Tiper is a former refinery that has been turned into a modern tank farm providing mass storage to all trading and marketing companies looking for storage capacity. It is one of the largest bulk import and storage sites in sub-Saharan Africa, with an overall storage capacity of 150,000 metric tonnes and a further 100,000 metric tonnes under rehabilitation.
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