The East African Community (EAC) partner states are making deliberate efforts to foster regional integration with the aim of improving the economic, social and environmental pillars that are important to sustainable national and regional development.
Following the move the East African Standards Committee recommended Sectoral Council approval of three EAC SQMT regulations namely, EAC Regulation for Designating Testing Laboratories, EAC Regulation for Enforcement of Technical Regulation and EAC Regulation for Product Certification which were all approved.
This was revealed during the extraordinary meeting of the East African Standards Committee which was held recently in Arusha under the Chairmanship of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards Director General, Mr. Charles Ekelege.
Approval of these regulations means harmonization of activities which contribute to trade facilitation by creating uniform legal regime (regulation) for partner states in the region in order to ease movement of products compliant to EAC standards.
Partner states are obliged to approximate and align the regulations such that standards related non-technical barriers to trade (NTBs) are removed or minimized. This is in accordance with the recently endorsed Common Market Protocol which is advancing free movement of goods, capital, labour and services.
Technical barriers to trade are some of the impediments to growth of trade in the East African region and therefore building a common understanding will help the stakeholders in deepening the integration process as well as facilitating intra-EAC trade and extra-EAC trade.
Tanzania has already approximated the Standards Act, 2009 to the regional SQMT Act. So with the approval of regulations, Tanzania will easily approximate its national regulations and therefore facilitate trade at national and regional levels.
The partner states established the East African Standards Committee due to recognition of the significance of standardization, quality assurance, metrology and testing in the enhancement of the standards of living, reduction of unnecessary trade barriers, the facilitation of interchangeability of products, the promotion of trade and investment, consumer protection, the enhancement of savings in public and private procurement, improved productivity, the facilitation of information exchange, the promotion of health as well as the protection of life, property, and the environment.
Within the structures of the EAC, there are Sectoral Committees set up to conceptualize sector-specific programmes and monitor their implementation for furtherance of the Treaty objectives. One such Sectoral Committee is the East African Standards Committee (EASC) which is charged with executing the provisions of Article 81 of the EAC Treaty on Standardization, Quality Assurance, Metrology, Testing and Accreditation activities commonly referred to as the EAC SQMT within the Community.
Therefore, EAC Partner States have created a platform and facilitated all the stakeholders to come and deliberate on ideas and come out with clear unchallengeable instruments to enable implementation of the EAC harmonized standards.
The meeting was attended by Chief Executive Officers of all national standards bodies, weights and measures agencies and private sector from the East African Community member states, namely Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.