On June 22, Burundi’s National Assembly adopted draft law on the ratification of the East African Community Protocol on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures (EAC SPS Protocol) pursuant to Section 8 of the Treaty Making and Ratification Act, 2012, essentially signaling the country’s approval of EAC SPS Protocol. This follows a high-level awareness raising meeting convened by the Hub in March 2017, in partnership with the Burundi Bureau of Standards and Quality Control (BBN). The meeting specifically aimed at raising awareness on EAC SPS Protocol and the need to support and fast track its ratification in the country. (Please also refer to this link: http://www.assemblee.bi/Analyse-et-adoption-du-Projet-de,1525 – note that it is in French)
The protocol harmonizes regional measures that align the EAC Partner States with each other and with global markets, ensuring easier trade. The measures seek to protect human and animal life from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease causing organisms in their food. The measures, which also take into account plant life, seek to mitigate damage to a country from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases or disease causing elements. The EAC SPS Protocol is expected to promote trade in food and agricultural commodities and strengthen the application of a harmonized approach for implementation of SPS measures and activities.
With the Parliaments ratification, the next stage will be to forward the protocol’s instruments of operation to the Ministry responsible for EAC affairs, and then to the EAC Secretariat. Burundi now joins Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda as the EAC Partner States that have ratified the SPS Protocol. Next steps for the Hub include supporting Tanzania to ratify the EAC Protocol on SPS.
Once the SPS protocol is ratified by all the EAC partner states, it will pave the way for the implementation of allied activities such as the enactment of the EAC SPS Bill, development of the regulations to support the implementation of the SPS Act as well as the domestication and implementation of the protocol itself by the EAC partner states. The EAC SPS Protocol is expected to contribute significantly towards promotion of intra-EAC trade and opening up the region to international trade.
The Hub has over the last two years facilitated the ratification process of the EAC SPS protocol in Kenya, drafting of the EAC SPS Bill (that has now been adopted on June 23 2017 by the10th Meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, SCAFS), assisted EAC and partner states to come up with priority SPS interventions at national and regional levels, and is now in the process to also facilitate the drafting of the EAC SPS regulations and strengthening of the national SPS committees, laboratory business planning, and national residue control plans. In addition, the Hub has also partnered with various service providers to undertake capacity building activities covering risk assessment (plant health, animal health, and food safety) and risk-based inspection and other phytosanitary port activities.