EAC countries develop 5,000 standards to ease regional trade

Workers pack maize grains in sacks in Mbarara. Some of the new standards include seeds standards on commodities such as maize, sorghum, soya beans, among others. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

What you need to know:

Challenge. Lack of national standards has hindered highly demanded products from enjoying the regional market.

Kampala. The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is set to introduce 5,000 new standards to ease the movement of goods and services.
Some of the new standards include seeds standards on maize, soya beans, sunflower, sorghum and groundnuts.
Such standards will help address challenges of fake seeds in the market when implemented by producers and government.
Other standards will be on sugar and sugar products such as chewing gum, liquid glucose used in industry, molasses, sugarcane and sweets.
These will help facilitate trade in the region.
Experts say the new standards could be an answer to the puzzled private sector whose products have been traded for more than 10 years but have no national standards.
EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Ssezibera, said: “Currently, EAC has 1,500 standards and we are bringing on board 5,000 more. We urge member states to domesticate them at the national level.”

Missing national standards
However, absence of national standards has hindered highly demanded products from enjoying the regional market.
The products mostly affected are ladies’ beauty products and the companies which have gone through this trial are Movit and Samona.
Mr Emmy Musasirane, the Movit director, in his submission, said: “We want the authorities to come up with provisions within the law to address the issue where a standard is not harmonised but a product has been in trade the country of origin for more than 15 years.”
He called for a special consideration which is acceptable by the other partner states,
“We have written a letter to Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) who are responsible for standards but up to now, we don’t have a national standard of those products yet we have invested heavily and have been trading in such products for the last 15 years. ... What do we do?
There is provision that if they have restructured the products we have been trading in for the last 15 years and we have the machines, you cannot trade in such products but they have not given us a solution.”
Mr Ssezibera asked the private sector to notify the secretariat if products are being blocked from accessing markets in other member countries to allow it solve the riddle.
If there is no national standard and no East African standard, it means products cannot move.
“There is urgency for these products to have their respective national standards to allow them move across the region,”Mr Ssezibera urged.
He called for mutual recognition of products from the different member states.

Status on national standards

Ms Patricia B. Ejalu, the deputy executive director technical operations at Uganda National Bureau of Standards, said the national standards for products such as Movit and Samona are being developed.
“We are in the process of developing these national standards and about to approve them. This will probably be done in our next council meeting in June,” Ms Ejalu assured.


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