The East African Community (EAC) national standards bodies have been urged to support business in the region by accessing the lucrative international markets through compliance with the international regulations and standards which govern these markets.
The regional bloc’s Deputy Secretary General (Planning and Infrastructure), Mr. Enock Bukuku made the call recently in Arusha when opening the 16th East African Standards Committee Meeting.
Mr. Bukuku said noncompliance to international standards and regulations cause failure of partner states to access regional and international markets. He said the markets can easily be accessed through a full understanding of the standards setting process and the use of science-based arguments which partner states use in harmonization of East Africa Community Standards.
“Through AGOA (the US African Growth and Opportunity Act), partner states are allowed to sell up to 1700 products but the number of products entering AGOA market is very minimal, due to the failure to comply with international regulations and standards,” he said.
He further said EAC partners states are increasingly required to eliminate Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to trade including Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) to facilitate trade in the region. On this, he urged for urgent revision of all outdated standards to counter any emerging standards related to NTBs in the near future.
“We do not need to fear reforms, common standards are important for consumer protection as well as environment protection,” Mr. Bukuku insisted and urged East African Standards Committee to expedite the process of reviewing and where necessary withdraw standards that have been overtaken by event.
Mr. Bukuku further said that regional cooperation cannot advance without involving all stakeholders who facilitate improvement of the standards of living of the citizens through increased competitiveness, value-added production, trade and investment.
The 16th East African Standards Committee Meeting was preceded by EAC Sub Technical Committee Meetings on Standards, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing with participants from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.