Africa: FDA Poised to Break Down Regulatory Barriers to Facilitate Intra-African Trade

24 November 2021

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has reiterated its commitment to support the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiatives aimed at promoting intra-African trade.

It cited initiatives such as the adoption of the Africa Union model law on medical products regulation, support for the West Africa Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation project and the establishment of the Africa Medicines Agency in the near future as some of the continental initiatives that was receiving its full support.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer, responsible for Technical Operations at the FDA, Mrs AkuaAmartey, speaking to the media on the sidelines of the just-ended second Intra-African Trade Fair held in Durban, South Africa, said"FDA would want to advocate for the speedy harmonisation of regulatory requirements across the continent to reduce undue cost that businesses incur while trading their products across the continent."

She indicated that the recent introduction of FDA's flagship programme - the Progressive Licensing Scheme, was targeted at developing cottage, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs),forthem to increase their export base and help to realise an ultimate boost in intra-Africa trade transactions by volume and value.

Mrs Amartey said the FDA looked forward to implementing the lessons learnt at the fair to spur the economic integration of the African continent.

She said Africa was known to be the only continent which did not consume what it produced, with a total of less than 16 per cent intra-Africa trade flows, compared to the 60 per cent, 40 per cent and30 per cent intra-regional trade achieved in Europe, North America and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) respectively.

Mrs Amartey said the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana together with other standards regulatory authorities were present at the fair with the purpose of interacting with the business community to provide regulatory support that will facilitate trade across the continent.

The event also brought to the fore the urgent need for effective harmonisation of country regulatory requirements to support this agenda.

She said studies so far had shown that standards and regulations had the potential to either act as barriers or catalysts for trade.

"For example, stricter food safety regulations and standards are often portrayed as non-tariff barriers to trade but can be a powerful catalyst for investments in improving food safety management systems, especially when incentives for these investments are lacking in domestic markets," Mrs Amartey, said.

The Deputy CEO said trade policy, standards and regulation interventions could have a positive impact on the quality of products and increase access to high-end export markets.

FDA participated in the just ended 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair, 2021 organised under the auspices of the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The event, which was opened in Durban, South Africa on Monday, November 15, 2021 by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, had seven other African heads of state present with several dignitaries and representatives of businesses all across Africa and beyond.

It was noted that, the coming into being of the AfCFTA in January 2020 constituted one giant step towards the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Africa Union and that the AfCFTA agreement, commits businesses and governments to work at changing the sad narrative of intra-Africa trade to realise a single market for its over 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3 trillion.

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