This blog appraises the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement that provides measures to protect animal or plant life or health within member territories, from risks, within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) context. It considers the salient obligations and features on equivalence and harmonisation of SPS measures in the SPS Agreement.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
The adoption of imprecise and relaxed SDT provisions that can easily provide leeway for countries to evade SDT obligations will only work contrary to the stated objective of the Agreement to promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development among State Parties. Just as Amartya Sen correctly puts it, “the central issue of contention is not globalization itself, nor is it the use of the market as an institution, but the inequity in the overall balance of institutional arrangements—which produces very unequal sharing of the benefits of globalization”
The first seeming obstacle to the emergence of a single African market is the contradictions between the stated aims of AfCFTA and some of the principles set out in the AfCFTA Agreement. As noted earlier, AfCFTA’s objectives include creating “a single market” and laying “the foundations for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union”. Yet, one of the principles under Article 5 is “variable geometry”, that is, differentiated integration. Of course, variable geometry was designed to recognise the heterogeneity and diversity in Africa’s economies. However, a single market is not consistent with an a la carte approach, where members integrate at different speeds.