SASEC SPS-TBT Diagnostic Study for Maldives: National Validation Meeting
7 Dec 2017
Maldives’ Ministry of Economic Development, together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), held a National Validation Meeting with public- and private-sector stakeholders on 07 December 2017 in Male, Maldives, to share the draft final findings and recommendations of the sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) national diagnostic study for Maldives. This diagnostic study was launched at a national consultation meeting in February 2017, under the trade facilitation agenda of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program. The validation meeting provided the opportunity for stakeholder comments and feedback on findings of the diagnostic study.
Given the reduction in tariffs over the last 30 years due to multilateral and bilateral obligations as well as autonomous economic liberalization, increasing importance is being directed toward addressing non-tariff measures (NTMs), which occur frequently in the form of standards and technical regulations, especially SPS and TBT. Accordingly, SASEC members agreed to develop mutual cooperation processes in the diverse and challenging area of SPS-TBT-related issues to address SPS-TBT barriers. As a first step, national diagnostic studies are under preparation in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Wide-based stakeholder validation meetings are being held in each country as the draft final reports become available.
Outcomes of the Maldives validation meeting included:
- Presentation of patterns of Maldives’ import and export trade with other SASEC countries, identification of potential export and import products for India and Sri Lanka, noting their respective SPS-TBT measures, as well as discussion on wider potential export diversification;
- An overview of the legislative environment, of institutional arrangements and capacities, and of infrastructure capacities and constraints, for both SPS and TBT in Maldives;
- Identification of various and specific standards, regulations, and procedural obstacles that impede trade of the identified potential export commodities from Maldives with India and Sri Lanka, and clarification whether these obstacles are SPS-TBT-related, or due to other non-tariff measures and barriers;
- Discussion and additional suggestions on preliminary recommendations for how to address SPS-TBT-related challenges faced by Maldives.
Ms. Khadeeja Husain, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development, Government of Maldives delivered the inaugural address, noting that the study was timely for the Government and in line with national efforts to improve trade facilitation in the area of SPS-TBT.
Twenty-five participants attended the validation meeting from relevant government agencies, together with representatives from the private sector. ADB supported the validation meeting under regional technical assistance funding.