Trade Policy at Work WTO (Negotiations, Regular Work, Leadership)

Understanding SPS Requirements for Exports to the EU: Focus on Cocoa, Cashew and Tuna products – Ghana

The manual identifies the good practices of safety and hygiene procedures of five food products for export to European Union. These products are (i) Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted (ii) Cocoa butter, fat, and oil (iii) Cocoa paste, wholly or partly defatted (iv) Fresh or dried cashew nuts, in shell (v) Prepared or preserved tuna/skipjack/bonito. This is done at all stages of the product marketing circuit (production, harvesting, transport, packaging and export) through the understanding and monitoring of the various stakeholders in agriculture sectors in Ghana. The manual is based on findings from studies conducted along the selected food products to promote the competitiveness of SMEs so that they can better leverage the Europeans Union market opportunities.

Ghana is a signatory to the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. This agreement guides strategies for ensuring food safety and plant health in Ghana. The WTO Agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS Agreement) gives members the right to take measures necessary for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health. It obliges members to ensure that any of such measures are applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, based on scientific principles and do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between members where identical or similar conditions prevail (Maden, et al., 2014).

While food safety is important for both national and international trade, phytosanitary compliance can especially be a big obstacle for international trade. In most developing countries, trade is a major driver of development. In case of Ghana where the agricultural sector remains the mainstay of the economy, increase in agricultural trade and exports contribute to the development of the country (Day et al., 2012). However, there are risks associated with trade of food and agricultural products. The hazard of food entering the national and international market lies in the fact that consumers potentially can be exposed to risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food. Hence, adequate knowledge in food quality, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements are necessary technical measures that can facilitate trade among countries.

Despite the importance of SPS measures, most small and medium scale enterprises (SME) from developing countries including Ghana are unable to meet these requirements due to several factors including overlapping institutions and lack of training on conformity to SPS measures. It is in this context that this manual provides an understanding of sanitary and phytosanitary measures for selected food products with potential for enhancing exports from Ghana into the European market. It covers five (5) food products: (i) a guide on cocoa beans (whole or broken, raw or roasted) (ii) a guide on cocoa butter, fat and oil (iii) a guide on cocoa paste, wholly or partly deflated (iv) a guide on fresh or dried cashews and (v) a guide on prepared or preserved tuna/skipjack/bonito


The approach for this study was to conduct an assessment of the sanitary and phytosanitary measures of the selected food products for export (cocoa beans, butter, paste, cashew nuts and tuna) into the European market and to provide a directory of what potential SME exporters of the covered products need to do to ensure that their exports meet the EU SPS standards and are therefore able to access the EU market. This is premised on the fact that the EU provides a largely open and lucrative market that can be leveraged by SMEs in these sectors if they are able to conform to the SPS requirements. The study engaged several stakeholders responsible for production, processing, inspection, certification and export of these selected products. These include institutional representatives from the Ghana standard Authority (GSA), Food and Drug Authority (FDA), COCOABOD, Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Division (PPRSD), Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), cocoa processors, cocoa purchasing company, fish processors, cashew Industry association in Ghana, cashew farmers association, continental export, exotic sea food and food caners. Additionally, data was collected from cashew farmers, cocoa farmers and other relevant institutions. The study provides a guide for good practices in ensuring phytosanitary measures in the selected food products.