EAC STANDARDS BODIES URGED TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES HINDERING TRADE

The 4th Technical Management Board (TMB) of East African Standards Committee (EASC) has been urged to work hard to address challenges that face the region so as to promote trade within and outside the East Africa Community (EAC).

The Zanzibar Minister for Trade, Industry and Marketing Hon. Nassor Ahmed Mazrui made the remark recently during the opening of a three day meeting at Zanzibar Beach Resort in Zanzibar. The TMB comprises of the Chief Executives of national standards bodies and weights and measures agencies in EAC partner states.

Mr. Mazrui pointed out that challenges facing the region with regards to standardization include inadequate quality infrastructure in member states, limited availability of accredited laboratories, limited scope of testing of the accredited laboratories and a challenged conformity assessment infrastructure.

He further said that EAC must enforce standardization in a more strategic way and harmonized focus in order to foster economic growth and promote trade among member states on one hand, and with international markets on the other.

“The implementation of a harmonized standardization regime and other quality assurance programmes is critical, therefore I suggest to all EAC partner states to pay special attention to this area,” he insisted.

Speaking earlier on behalf of the EAC Director of Customs and Trade, Mr. Peter Kiguta, the Principal Standards Officer for the Community, Mr Willy Musinguzi said that since 2007 when EAC Standardization, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act (SQMT Act of 2006) became operational, institutions in the region have done a tremendous job in facilitating trade.

Mr. Musinguzi told the meeting that EAC SQMT Act, 2006 had been aligned with national standards laws in the partner states to enhance and facilitate trade as provided for in the EAC Treaty.

The meeting was also informed that the EAC Standards Committee had established the TMB purposely to expeditiously resolve standards related Non Tariff Barriers and TMB has so far put in place mechanisms to address emerging challenges in conformity assessment of goods across the region.

The Principal Standards Officer reported that recently the Council of Ministers approved three pieces of regulations to operationalize the EAC SQMT Act, 2006 and facilitate trade. The three pieces cover the Designation of Test Laboratories in Partner States, communication, award of the product certification marks in Partner States and Enforcement technical regulations such ban, restrictions and mandatory standards among others.

Mr. Musinguzi reported that a total of 1,250 standards had been harmonized since 2004 and are being reviewed to meet the provisions of the Common Market Protocol on movement of goods and some obsolete standards are being withdrawn.

In the same meeting, the Director General of Zanzibar Bureau of Standards, Mr. Khatib Mwadini Khatib said his organization was at infant stage of establishment and needed support from other National Standards Bodies in order to deliver right benefits for the people of Zanzibar.

Mr. Khatib was optimistic that the establishment of ZBS will stimulate regional inter-trade and cross border trade between Zanzibar and other countries outside EAC.

The Director General elaborated that the people of Zanzibar deserve all benefits similarly from all aspects of standardization and it is obvious that ZBS expects good support in terms of technical capacity, knowledge, skills and experience sharing from all EAC national standards bodies.