By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Experts from SADC are gathered in Wind-hoek to discuss trade-related issues that are critical to the economic development of the entire Southern African region. The experts from the SADC Standardization, Qua-lity Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) have come together for the 21st annual meeting that would allow exchange of information on the facilitation of free movement of goods and services associated with the removal of technical barriers to trade. Representative of the SADC Chair in Botswana Masego Marobela indicated that the 21st Annual meeting on SQAM is an important step towards bettering the economies of the Southern African region. The regional economies at present face many challenges that call for practical solutions. SADC has adopted the Regional Indicative Development Plan (RISDP) that provides strategic direction, commits SQAM members to undertake programmes and activities aimed at achieving the long-term goals of poverty reduction, employment creation and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Marobela says free trade amongst Southern African Development Community states, working towards common rules and standards and operational efficiency would go a long way towards improving economic performance and strengthening people-to-people ties in the region. Since its establishment, SQAM has played a significant role in contributing to the SADC Trade Protocol in particular. The body has similarly played a critical role in consolidating peace, political stability and security in the region, facilitating the free movement of people, goods and services, as well as combating food insecurity and HIV/AIDS among others. Officiating the event, Prime Minister Nahas An-gula emphasised the need for regional integration, saying it is crucial to the expansion of trade and investments. He added that regional economic integration has potential to strengthen global economic growth if accompanied by greater market access of the region’s products including services as it makes the region a reliable pillar not only for the envisaged African Economic and Monetary Union but also of the global economy. The Premier said the region’ s political leadership will continue to provide necessary support needed to achieve goals of removing technical and non-tariff barriers to trade in the region. These non-tariff barriers to trade include the increasingly stringent requirements imposed on products from one country to the other and from the SADC region to other markets. Angula indicated that global competition has intensified in terms of quality, price, supply chain management and dependability of delivery systems. He reminded SQAM experts that there is a great need to intensify and develop standards and effective technical regulations if the region has to meet the global consumer demand especially in the area of food safety and health. With the world worried about the avian flu virus (bird flu), Angula advised SQAM representatives to be vigilant in their operations and strengthen the confidence of consumers in SADC and the region trading partners. “I urge you to expeditiously carry out your tasks of removing all technical and non-tariff barriers to trade in order to facilitate trade and integration in the SADC region,” he ended. The meeting that started yesterday ends tomorrow.
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