East African private sectors players have urged governments in the EAC economic block to fast-track the harmonization of East African Standards.
The regional business communities made the appeal during the East African Business Council and Trade mark East African ( EABC-TMEA) public private engagement on standards held in Dares Salaam, Tanzania recently.
According to evidences from EABC, it shows that harmonization of standards has led to increment in intra-trade by 10%, and has reduced inspection & clearance costs at the borders from USD 500 to USD 400. Clearance days from 10 days to 0.5 days.
“Harmonization of standards significantly contributes to growth of intra-regional trade, competitiveness, protection of consumers & environment and overall trade facilitation” reads the document generated from the meeting.
The regional business council indicates that 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 catalogue of harmonized standards has been developed since 2021.
The National Standards Bureaus in EAC Partner States are at different levels of harmonization of standards ranging from 65% to 90%.
More specifically Burundi and South Sudan are experiencing significant administrative and capacity challenges hence have not adopted to harmonized East African Standard’s for manufactured goods.
John Bosco Kalisa, the EABC CEO urged EAC Partner States to Fast-tracking adoption of the Standardization, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) bill, facilitating frequent peer reviews, creating awareness on the East African Standards and involve the private sector in development of the standards.
He added that the private Sectors from the region are also calling for a demand driven and low cost approach towards standards development in EAC.
The public private dialogue also explored on global perspective on the use of artificial sweeteners / nutritive and non-nutritive sugar in manufacture of carbonated soft drinks, juices, confectioners and dairy products (yogurt) and their interlinkages 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 building common positions, identify constraints, priorities and enhance capacity on standards among private sector stakeholders.
The EABC-TMEA Regional Public Private Engagement on Standards was attended by Officials from EAC Secretariat, National Bureau of Standards, Manufacurers 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), CocaCola, and Watercom (T) Ltd.