In facilitation of cross-border cooperation, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States have developed some measures aimed at protection of the health and welfare of human, plant, and animal life in the region Protocol on Trade - Annex VIII Concerning Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. While SADC is committed to removing non-tariff barriers in order to improve trade between countries, it also recognises that imported agriculture, livestock, and food products could contain harmful pests or contaminants. For this reason, SADC has agreed to follow standards for agriculture, livestock, and food safety set out by the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures. By following harmonised measures throughout the region, Member States of SADC can remain confident that goods imported from other nations within the region follow common sanitary practices, easing concerns about any effects on human, plants and animals, and businesses.
Rights and Obligations
The SADC Protocol on Trade requires that Member States to base their practices on the international standards, guidelines, and recommendations of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. As such, Member States have the following rights and obligations:
- Member States can take sanitary and phytosanitary measures to protect human, animal, or plant health, provided these measures are consistent with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
- Member States only apply these measures to the extent necessary to protect human, animal, or plant health, and they must be based on scientific principles and evidence;.
- Member States do not arbitrarily discriminate against other Member States with the same sanitary guidelines, and they do not apply measures simply to restrict international trade.
Implementation and Dispute Resolution
Member States are individually responsible for following these guidelines. However, SADC recognises that, in certain cases, a Member State’s technical capacity may prevent it from fulfilling its obligations. In order to ensure the Protocol on Trade is implemented equally throughout the region, SADC Secretariat provides technical assistance to Member States that are establishing these measures.
Likewise, disputes between Member States may arise over interpretations of the sanitary and phytosanitary measures or their abilities to implement them. SADC provides a regional forum (SADC Sanitary and Phytosanitary Coordinating Committee) for Member States to address matters pertaining to these measures. .