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Document Abstract
Published: 2017

A practical agenda to reducing technical barriers to trade in SADC

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Technical regulations refer to product and process specifications, whether voluntary (standards) or legally required (compulsory specifications).

This policy brief provides context for technical regulation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It then offers some cross-cutting solutions for developing monitoring mechanisms that can allow policymakers to identify problem areas, and some specific interventions for the Standards, Accreditation and Metrology functions that can build capacity at low cost. It provides some recommendations for a practical agenda on reducing Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) in the SADC – ones that can be executed with minimal cost, and that improve the institutional capacity of regional organisations to grapple with the complexity inherent to the field. Above all, these regulations will need to be carefully attuned to assure that they provide the maximum protection for the region from dangerous substandard imports, while still allowing for a dynamic, mutually beneficial trading relationship.

Technical regulation cannot create jobs, but it is a vital underpinning for the type of policies that drive regional integration and create industrial jobs. As it stands, Southern Africa’s technical regulation is developing too fast, with too few controls to ensure that it is directed towards developmental purposes. Capacity expansion that simply results in ever more standards being churned out increases complexity,
but not quality. Practical interventions that create supporting mechanisms – such as monitoring systems, or assistance for firms seeking accreditation – are essential to creating a development-focused regional technical infrastructure.

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Authors

C. Wood

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