Handover Ceremony of the SADC Regional Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) Strategies for Plant, Animal and Food Safety to SADC Secretariat

As Prepared For Delivery | August 4, 2015 | Gaborone

Good morning!  Dumelang!

It is a privilege for me to participate in the formal hand-over of the Draft SADC Regional Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) strategies for Plant, Animal and Food Safety to the SADC Secretariat.

The development of these standards is another example of the close collaboration between the United States and SADC.

Sanitary and PhytoSanitary measures protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, and contaminants. SPS strategies ensure SADC member states are able to provide consumers with food and food products that are safe, while at the same time facilitating regional trade and integration.

In the past, inconsistent SPS measures sometimes created trade barriers and hindered the flow of goods across the region. One of the major objectives of the SPS strategies is to build appropriate SPS capacity in keeping with global standards, while eliminating these trade barriers.

The SPS strategies did not develop overnight. Their preparation required the commitment and the active engagement of SADC’s 15 member states over 18 months. It is exciting and rewarding to see the results of our collaborative efforts this morning, and I am looking forward to seeing SPS strategies positively impact the marketplace and foster economic gains across the region.

The U.S. government believes improving SPS strategies will lead to increased trade flows in Southern Africa; promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and increasing the standard of living for hard working people across our region — from the smallholder farmers who grow crops for the local market to the agribusiness producing food for export; from the truck drivers who ferry goods across borders to the traders and retailers who deliver these products to the consumer. Unlocking their economic potential starts with improving SPS standards and quality control.

That’s why USAID has been working closely with the SADC Secretariat, and specifically with the Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorates to develop and field test SPS strategies.

It is important to point out the actual drafting of the strategy was a multi-step, participatory process. Working closely with TIFI and FANR, the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub engaged regional experts in food safety, plant health and animal health, culminating in a first SPS strategy draft. This draft was then reviewed and vetted during a critical Stakeholders Workshop, held in Johannesburg in February 2015 and attended by more than 100 SADC delegates from the 15 member states. Based on the feedback received from the delegates, the current SPS strategies were finalized. The SPS strategy is not a “one size fits all” document but outcome focused and contextualized for the needs of each member state.

I would like to congratulate the TIFI and FANR Directorates, as well as the 15 member states, for making SPS strategy development a priority and realizing this notable achievement.

Thank you.