Fact sheet


For exporters to be successful they need to identify potentially profitable markets bearing in mind their cost-structure and, if possible, acquire a ‘competitive advantage’ over other suppliers to that target market. This, however, is influenced by factors over which producers (and buyers) have limited or no influence such as tariffs, exchange rates and peculiarities of particular markets that influence access to them (e.g. various protectionist practices adopted by importing countries or powerful industries). Regulatory standards recommended by international bodies and enforced by national governments (including ratcheting-up, i.e. imposition of requirements higher than those defined by international standards) are a further crucial issue. These so-called non-tariff/sanitary barriers are particularly influential when it comes to trade in animals and products derived from animals.

This module does not address trade and marketing of live animals because that is a specialized subject, distinct from trade in products such as meat, milk and fibers derived from animals, including products resulting from further processing.

Meat, milk and products derived from them present two special complications additional to those of other commonly traded commodities and products: (1) most are highly perishable and (2) the risks associated with such trade are not confined to the private domain. The risks to the ‘public good’ are of two major types that to some extent overlap, viz. threats to human health where the imported commodity/product is destined for inclusion in human foodstuffs (i.e. food safety issues) and threats to animal populations in cases where the commodity could potentially disseminate infectious agents or other substances that may have serious consequences for animals and therefore indirectly on rural economies.

Non-tariff measures aimed at preventing the entry of infections such as those outlined above have also sometimes been used to exclude imports in order to protect domestic agricultural industries from competition. Minimizing this practice is one of the objectives of the UN’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) which tries to ensure that trade is as ‘free’ as possible. This is a particularly serious issue for the sub-Saharan African Region because many transboundary animal diseases (TADs) occur in the region; a larger number are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa than in any other region of the world. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa therefore have greater difficulty in overcoming non-tariff barriers and thereby accessing international and even regional markets for animal commodities than other developing regions of the world, i.e. even where import tariffs are not a constraining factor.
Module content

This module outlines and attempts to contextualize issues related to international trade in commodities and products derived from animals as well as presenting ways by which current threats and opportunities – with an emphasis on southern Africa – could be better managed. It is divided into the following topics:

General issues associated with international trade

  •     Overview of international agricultural trade and marketing
  •     Economic issues associated with international trade
  •     Understanding markets and market opportunities
  •     Livestock product supply chains, marketing channels and the issue of competitiveness.

Standards and norms associated with international trade in animal commodities & products

  •      International standard setting bodies and the relationship between public and private standards
  •     Identification, measurement and management of risk associated with trade in animal commodities and products
  •     Methodologies for assuring the biological safety of animal production (value) chains
  •     Challenges for developing countries in meeting sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) standards
  •     Special issues related to trade in wildlife and products derived from wildlife.

Assuring the biological safety of animal production (value) chains

  •     Traceability requirements for foodstuffs derived from animals
  •     Integration of food safety and animal disease risk management
  •     Auditing and certification in support of trade in commodities and products derived from animals
Asset Type: 
Fact Sheet