Comesa calls for free trade in farm produce

Non-tariff barriers on agricultural produce should be scrapped to allow farmers, who constitute the bulk of the population, to exploit the wide market in the region.

Non-tariff barriers on agricultural produce should be scrapped to allow farmers, who constitute the bulk of the population, to exploit the wide market in the region.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) secretariat said this said in a statement at the end of the meeting of its fifth sub-committee on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) non-tariff barriers, in Kampala, at the weekend.

SPS non-tariff barriers are restrictions on farm products perceived to be either contaminated with toxins at the time of production/processing or those environmentally hazardous.

The statement said such restrictions slow trade in the region that has left member countries trade more with the outside world than among partners.

According to figures, trade between Comesa and the rest of the world rose from a net worth of $240 billion in 2011 to $262 billion last year, while intra-Comesa trade grew by only 5 per cent over the same period.

Kipyego Cheluget, the Comesa deputy secretary-general for programmes, said the organisation remains committed to integration and called on member states to meet market access requirements to boost exports.

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