by Alphonse RUTAZIGWA,
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: - East African Private Sector has urged Governments for fast-tracked harmonization of East African Standards during the EABC-TMEA Regional Public Private Engagement on Standards held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Evidence shows harmonization of standards has increased intra-trade by 10%, and reduced inspection & clearance costs at the border from USD. 500 to USD. 400 and clearance days from 10 days to 0.5 days.
Harmonization of standards significantly contributes to the growth of intra-regional trade, competitiveness, protection of consumers& environment, and overall trade facilitation.
To date, a total of 624 indigenous standards have been adopted by the EAC Partner States and a total of 1880 standards have been earmarked for harmonization at the EAC level.
Other notable reforms include: the establishment of the Regional Standards Plan (RSP) and an online catalog of harmonized standards has been developed since 2021.
The National Standards Bureaus in the EAC Partner States are at different levels of harmonization of standards ranging from 65% to 90%. More specifically Burundi and South Sudan have significant administrative and capacity challenges and hence have noted the adoption of harmonized East African Standards.
Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO urged EAC Partner States to Fast-tracking adoption of the Standardization, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) Bill, facilitate frequent peer reviews, create awareness of East African Standards and involve the private sector in the development of the standards
Manufacturers have further called for a demand-driven and low-cost approach toward standards development in EAC. The Public Private Dialogue also explored a global perspective on the use of artificial sweeteners / Nutritive and Non-Nutritive sugar in the manufacture of carbonated soft drinks, juices, confectioners, and dairy products (yogurt) and their interlink ages to competitiveness and innovation.
The Regional Public Private Engagement on Standards is organized under the EABC-TMEA Public Private Dialogue Project for Increased Trade & Investments in the EAC, funded by The Netherlands.
Other Key issues raised include reduction of the multiple inspections at the border, high standardization and compliance cost especially for MSMEs, and revival of the East African Business Council Standards Platform to build common positions, identify constraints, and priorities, and enhance capacity on standards among private sector stakeholders.
The EABC-TMEA Regional Public Private Engagement on Standards convened Officials from the EAC Secretariat, National Bureau of Standards, Manufacturers Associations, Association of Burundi Industries (AIB), Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce (TWCC), Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), South Sudan Chambers of Commerce Industries & Agriculture, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Coca-Cola, and Watercom (T) Ltd.