The Second Tripartite Summit, held on 12 June 2011, agreed that Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations would be undertaken in two phases. The first phase will focus on trade in goods and will be negotiated within a period of three years.
Trade in goods, however, requires that goods should comply with import rules and regulations, including the technical standards of the importing country. Some of these technical standards vary from country to country, sometimes creating Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and affecting the free flow of goods. Integrating the Tripartite into a single market requires a well-functioning technical infrastructure, underpinned by harmonized standards.
Imports and exports of agricultural products, on the other hand, have to conform to Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) standards that are applied to protect human, animal or plant health and life. While legitimate in themselves, these measures can become barriers to trade if they vary from one country to another or if a country lacks the capacity to comply with stringent requirements. In recognition of these varying SPS standards, paragraph 2 of Article 26 (Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures) of the Tripartite FTA Agreement states that "Tripartite Member States shall harmonise their Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures and shall initiate activities to achieve regional certification of products".
TMSA is supporting the Tripartite to eliminate standards and SPS related trade barriers. Specifically:
- To develop procedures for the development of harmonised technical standards as well as harmonised SPS standards for selected agricultural products.
- To identify the most commonly traded products in the region and facilitate the adoption of harmonized standards (technical standards) for these products.
- To facilitate the development of a three year Standards, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology work programme for the Tripartite, as well as a common Tripartite SPS work programme.
- To develop harmonised tripartite regulations and registration guidelines for plant protection products and natural remedies such as bio control technologies and bio pesticides.
- To develop certification schemes for selected agricultural products.
- To strengthen the coordination mechanisms of National and Regional SPS Committees.
TMSA's support will help to eliminate standards related trade barriers.