Volume: Volume 25 - 2021
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Hilda Thopacu
Zambia faces a serious vitamin A deficiency (VAD) that affects most infants and expectant mothers, leading to night blindness, maternal deaths, and more. One of the efforts to address this is by permitting only the manufacture, sale, or import of household consumption sugar which is fortified with vitamin A - which is seen as a disguised restriction on international trade.
Through a desk-top research study, the article examines the question, as to what extent Zambia's fortification requirement complies with the necessity principle in the Technical Barrier to Trade Annex to the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Trade (TBT Annex) and Article 2(2) of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement).
The research finds that the measure is a technical regulation with a legitimate objective to protect the health and lives of a target VAD Zambian population. Further, it is applied to both domestic and like foreign products; therefore, it is neither discriminatory nor directly linked to the lack of competitive opportunities for like foreign products. Even if fortified maize meal could be opted for instead of sugar, it cannot achieve the equivalent contribution in dealing with the VAD problem because of challenges, such as, the uncertainty in regulatory regime, and its irregular consumption pattern. Consequently, the sugar fortification requirement is not more trade restrictive than necessary under the TBT Annex and Article 2(2) of the TBT Agreement.