Trade experts to meet
Speaking at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) 21st annual regional conference on Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula said leaders in Southern Africa remained committed to the 1992 SADC Treaty of providing the political support needed to foster regional integration through trade. “I am confident that the region’s political leadership will continue the pledge deriving from the 1992 SADC Treaty to provide the necessary political support that you need to achieve your goals of removing technical and non-tariff barriers to trade. Non-tariff barriers to trade include the increasingly stringent technical requirements imposed on products from one country to another and from SADC region to other markets,” said Angula at the opening the three-day conference that started on Tuesday. To ease trade in order to build a formidable regional economic block in August 1996 SADC member states adopted the Trade Protocol in Maseru, Lesotho. The protocol calls for trade barrier removals and the free movement of people, goods and services. Article 3 of the protocol says: “There shall be a phased reduction and eventual elimination of import duties in accordance with Article 3 of the protocol on goods originating from member states. “Pursuant to paragraph 1, a member state shall not raise import duties beyond those in existence at the time of entry into force of protocol,” it says. Article 17 of the Trade protocol calls for member States to use relevant international standards as a basis for its standard-related measures, except where such standards would be ineffective or inappropriate means to fulfil its legitimate objectives. Angula said due to the intricate issues surrounding globalisation, the region still had many challenges to tackle. “Besides, globalisation provides many challenges, which require a good understanding and appreciation of the link between trade, standards and export competitiveness. Yet the world has become a global village,” said Angula. Angula said trade barriers should only be put in place for positive purposes such as fighting off negative impacts especially when it comes to sanitary regulations. Masego Marobela a representative of Botswana as SADC Chair said SQAM has made some strides over the year it has been in place in ensuring that SADC becomes a formidable economic block. “I would not enumerate on the successes and challenges of the programme thus far, however, I do believe that the programme has indeed played and will continue to play a significant role in contributing to the implementation of the SADC Trade Protocol in particular,” said Marobela.