Enhancing SPS capacity in Uganda: the role of technical assistance

In recent years, Uganda received technical and/or financial assistance to enhance the country’s overall SPS capacity. The country had several of its main exports rejected on the basis of non compliance with SPS standards in importing countries. The Quality infrastructure and standards programme (QISP) of the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry (MTTI) is expected to address some of the SPS problems of selected sectors. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries is developing a project to address SPS issues of the major commodities including animals.

General capacity building on the SPS Agreement has been funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry and WTO. Overall support has been received by several partners. For example, a EurepGAP certification programme (a common standard for farm management practice created in the late 1990s by several European supermarket chains and their major suppliers) was funded under the Pesticides Initiative Programme (PIP) financed by the European Development Fund. Sweden provided assistance to fund the Quality Infrastructure and Standards Program (QISP) 2010-2014. The program will cover improvement of the value chain of a few identified sectors/products, development of standards & quality policy and strategy, legal and regulatory framework and awareness raising.

SPS assistance in specific sectors has also been received, which includes:

In agriculture, the EU funded training on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for fruits and vegetables farmers, training of fisheries sector on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The latter resulted in a project on upgrading the cooling system at Entebbe funded by the Netherlands.  The Netherlands WSSD Partnerships and Horticulture Chain Management in East Africa projects (2008-2010) focusing on identifying, testing and developing supply chain management arrangements for bananas, sweet potatoes, hot peppers and pineapples, planting material and improvements in chain management. The Netherlands and EU also provided training to the flower exporters and funded the development of a manual on Good Agricultural Practices for flowers.

USAID has funded new growing practices, post harvest controls, pest management programs for flowers under the Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Program (APEP) project and has supported various SPS projects under the African Global Competitiveness initiative. USAID has also supported genetically modified cotton, maize and milk including the National Dairy Traders Association.

The FAO, EC, International Coffee Organisation and the European Coffee Industry have supported the coffee sector including control of wilt disease. UNIDO, SIDA and DANIDA have supported the honey sector, including through the establishment of lab testing facilities.  DANIDA and SIDA have also supported organic products including the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU).

In fisheries, the EU funded assistance to improve SPS compliance around the Lake Victoria fish landing sites as well as the Rider pest Eradication program supported, the implementation of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Management Plan (LVFMP) and the strengthening of Fisheries Product Health conditions in ACP countries. Meanwhile, the African Development Bank funded a fisheries development project on upgrading 30 landing sites. Japan funded two landing sites and China one landing site while the International Center for Aquaculture & Aquatic Environments of the Auburn University assisted Uganda in the development of commercial fish farming including caging funded under the USAID FISH project.

Despite the technical assistance received, there has been insufficient use of Art. 9 of the SPS Agreement which mandates relevant importing developed countries to provide technical assistance and capacity building to LDCs having problems in exporting due to SPS regulations. The private sector is not aware of this provision. Thus, there is a need for Uganda to strengthen the National SPS Committee so that it can conduct better assessments of new regulations, monitor private sector compliance of new SPS measures and follow up on notification procedure. There is also a need to improve the capacity of SPS inspectors of agricultural, animal and fisheries products.  At the same time the private sector needs to be sensitized about the flexibilities enshrined in the SPS Agreement to enable them to request for technical assistance and capacity building when they are having problems in implementing different standards. In this regard, there is need of capacity building in the private sector to understand and analyze new regulations to assess the impact on their businesses and be able to report back to the National SPS Committee.

Source: DESA Survey on international support measures related to WTO provisions and preferential market access in favour of LDCs. The case of Uganda.