EAST AFRICAN STANDARDS PLATFORM

Print

The East African Standards Platform (EASP) was operationalised in mid-February 2012 as a structure within EABC in response to challenges faced by suppliers in intra-regional trade due to differences in technical regulations and standards amongst EAC Partner States.

The platform objective is to advocate for full implementation of EAC Customs Union Protocol on the free movement of goods in the region. In this regard, the Platform champions the development, harmonization and revision of the East African Standards according to the most traded goods in the region so as to facilitate intra EAC trade. Members of the Private Sector have been involved in the Technical Committees developing, harmonizing or revising these standards At inception of the platform, several standards related challenges had been identified as key impediments to intra-EAC trade driven by issues like lack of mutual recognition of standards despite the EAC

SQMT Act (2006); low level of harmonization of EAC Standards, lack of prioritization of standards needing harmonization and limited Private Sector involvement in standards development and accreditation issues etc.

EASP has a Steering Committee with representation of members drawn from; Burundi Association of Manufacturers (AIB), Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), East African Farmers Federation (EAFF) and East African Tea Traders Association (EATTA).

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS FOR THE EASP

IDENTIFICATION OF THE 20 MOST TRADED GOODS IN THE REGION

In 2013, EABC carried out a study to identify 20 most traded goods in East Africa and then embarked on advocacy for harmonization of standards for those products. Out of the 20 products, standards for 7 of the products have been harmonized and the work continues. A recent impact assessment study shows that harmonization of standards in the region of the selected sampled products improved their competitiveness and market access and has contributed to increment in the intra-EAC trade values of the sampled products from US$ 291.2 million in 2010 to US$ 343 million in 2014 which is an increment of 18%. The harmonization has led to reduced time from 10 days to half a day for movement of these products across borders due to testing against the harmonized EAC standard. Further, the cost of exporting the products across the borders has reduced from USD 500 to almost zero due to the retesting that was taking place before.

HARMONIZATION OF SEVERAL EAST AFRICAN STANDARDS

Since the formation of the platform in 2012, over 156 standards from among the 20 most traded products in the EAC as identified by the EABC study of 2013 have been harmonized. These standards are from the sub sectors of; Iron and steel, sugar confectionary, Surface active agents, Edible oils and fats, fish and fish products, alcoholic beverages, Cement, paper and paper products.

AWARENESS CREATION FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR ON HARMONIZED

STANDARDS AND TECHNICAL REGULATIONS

Since inception, the EASP has held several Private Sector sensitization workshops in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania on the EAC harmonized standards as well as on the interplay between standards and technical regulations where over 700 stakeholders have been sensitized. These workshops bring together Private Sector, government agencies and institutions and the academia. During these sessions, Private Sector players are informed of the standards that have been harmonized at the regional level with a view of reducing standards related challenges as they trade across the region.

 

ADVOCACY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STANDARDS, ACCREDITATION AND CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT BILL (SACA BILL)

 

EASP advocated and included within the revised draft SACA bill an article that addresses establishment of a regional framework for the development and implementation of technical regulations. The SACA bill is meant to address some of the most pressing issues on technical regulations that have been an impediment to trade across the EAC borders.

In addition to the article in the bill, EASP organized an EAC regional public private dialogue (PPD) on technical regulations in Kampala, Uganda where a road map on finalizing the SACA bill was agreed. The contentious issues in the SACA bill were resolved with advocacy of the EASP and now the bill has been forwarded to legal drafters for further management.

 

MUTUAL RECOGNITION OF CERTIFICATION MARKS BY NATIONAL STANDARDS BUREAUS (NSBS) ACROSS THE EAC REGION

EASP advocated for mutual recognition of quality marks by NSBs while trading across the borders. This has led to reduction in costs related to retesting of products as well as reducing unnecessary delays at border points while goods are being retested. This is part of the findings in the EABC study of 2016 on the impact assessment of East African harmonized standards on the business community.