Baseline assessment of Mozambique’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and road map for reform
Mozambique has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 26 August 1995 and a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since 27 July 1992. In general, Mozambique is not meeting, or is insufficiently meeting, its WTO and/or Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) commitments. This is particularly true of transparency provisions, but that issue is only the tip of the iceberg. Problems range from technical capacity to institutional capacity—two very different but interdependent and similarly important aspects of SPS capacity.
Technical capacity shortfalls are acute in all three SPS components: food safety, animal health, and plant protection. Transparency mechanisms—the WTO National Notification Authority and the National Enquiry Point—do not function because of Mozambique’s obsolete office equipment and deficient internet connection, but also because of other institutional capacity-related weaknesses, including nonexistent or poor coordination and communication among the different concerned ministries and agencies, aggravated by a lack of trust of and limited dialogue with the private sector.
Mozambique’s participation in the WTO SPS Committee meetings is occasional and irregular. The country therefore misses the opportunity to share information, hold bilateral talks and eventually seek support from trade partners, explore market access opportunities, and learn from the experiences of other countries with similar profiles, and it excludes itself from the development of natural alliances with countries with similar SPS concerns and profiles. Mozambique is also not an active SADC member state regarding SPS issues.
Mozambique suffers from a generalized lack of or limited access to adequate training; the absence of modern technology and control capacity capable of responding to the entrance and rapid spread of new pests/diseases (recently illustrated in the Panama disease crisis in bananas, fruit fly; fall armyworm, aflatoxin, etc.); and outdated legislation, standards, and regulations, often not harmonized with international standards. Several laboratories lack well-qualified and trained staff, and existing equipment is in many cases obsolete or stalled due to malfunctions.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, SPS is not regarded by senior decision makers as a priority issue, and there is no national SPS strategy, which makes it difficult to build a dedicated national SPS agenda.
Replies to an SPS Questionnaire and discussions with numerous public and private sector stakeholders, including officials with senior management responsibilities, as well as reported recent financial cuts in the public sector, revealed serious financial, technical, and human shortages affecting plant protection, animal health, and food safety. These issues must be urgently addressed.