The launch of the SADC Free trade Agreement (FTA) in September 2000 ushered in a new opportunity for SADC member states to access a market of approximately 200 million people covering a diversified range of goods and services. The key elements of the SADC FTA are economic integration through trade and investment.
Despite agreement on Liberalization of tariffs especially on agriculture and agro related products, the absence of harmonized procedure on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and regulations between the SADC member states can pose significant technical barriers to the attainment of the objectives of the declared FTA. In many countries, SPS regulations are non-existent for a wide range of economically important commodities. Even where two or more countries already have bilateral trade regimes, the absence of harmonized procedures can pose constraints to further trade expansions, even where potential gains far outweigh the costs.