Agreeably, all over the world, removal of non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs – technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment) remains a high target in trade liberalisation programmes, as the main challenges facing the international trading system, and Africa in particular remain the variation in Conformity Assessment activities practices, and standards used by different countries, resulting into the costly problem of discriminatory, non-transparent, and unnecessary obstacles to trade will persist. All the three issues (technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment) are relevant to the simple goal of one product, one test, accepted everywhere, a widely recognised target of trade liberalisation, and all three are covered by the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement of the WTO (World Trade Organisation), although conformity assessment has so far received less attention in studies of trade effects.
Conformity assessment and standardization are separate but inter-linked activities within Quality Infrastructure architecture. Businessmen, consumers and public officials have certain expectations about the quality, safety, reliability, interoperability, efficiency, effectiveness and environmental sustainability of products and services and these are specified in a standard. Conformity assessment provides the means for testing the compliance of such products and services with these expectations, in accordance with relevant standards, regulations and other specifications. Conformity assessment depends on the existence of unambiguous standards against which products, processes, and services are assessed. It helps to ensure that products and services deliver on their promises as per the referenced standard. In other words, conformity assessment builds trust and makes standards relevant.
The National Academies Press, USA, (1995) sites the seven functions of product and process standards as: fostering commercial communication; diffusing technology; raising productive efficiency; enhancing market competition; ensuring physical and functional compatibility; improving process management; and enhancing public welfare. To succeed in these functions, standards must be well designed, based in sound technology, appropriate to the task at hand, and accepted as valid and useful by the population of users. A standard that meets these criteria, however, still fails to have the effect its developers intended if products designed to conform to it do not, in practice, conform. Conformity assessment is the comprehensive term for measures taken by manufacturers, their customers, regulatory authorities, and independent, third parties to assess conformity to standards. A functioning technical regulation system can benefit a domestic economy in terms of balancing regulatory and trade interests, reducing unintended effects, eliminating technical barriers to trade, providing critical market information, improving the quality and consistency of technical regulations and complying with international requirements. Consumers, regulatory bodies, producers, manufacturers, processors, importers and exporters all stand to benefit equally from an effective technical regulatory system. However, Technical regulations serve little purpose if the supporting conformity assessment system is weak or non-existent.
Importance of Conformity Assessment to African Countries:
- Reducing the risk that domestic market could easily be the dumping ground for sub-standard and unsafe products.
- Protection of the environment and achieve higher social responsibility and allowing the performance of consumer safety function (availability of testing facilities, particularly microbiology and chemical testing laboratories and legal metrology).
- Facilitating trade, access to export markets and generate hard currency
- Overcoming risk of rejection of products in export markets due to lack of conformity (TBS and SPS).
- Prevention of unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of a poor QI infrastructure for enforcing legal system for inspection, custom control,
- Integration of producers/traders in the global economy
- Enabling the private sector to solve quality, compliance and certification problems hampering its aspiration to gain access to export markets and avoid multiple testing.
As part of their quality infrastructure, all economies need access to credible conformity assessment services. These are needed for a variety of purposes, including: Demonstration that products, processes, services, commodities and personnel meet required specifications. These may include requirements specified under regulations (domestic or foreign), purchasers’ specifications, trade agreements etc; Establishing and monitoring appropriate requirements for protection of health, safety and the environment. The National Academies Press, USA, (1995). The importance of standards and conformity assessment in both domestic and international trade was prominently noted in the 1994 Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). The agreement recognises that harmonized standards and conformity assessment procedures can expedite or seriously hinder the free flow of goods in international commerce.
The World Trade Organization-Technical Barriers (WTO TBT) Agreement requires that conformity assessment procedures are prepared, adopted, and applied so as to grant access for suppliers of like products originating in the territories of other Members [signatories to the agreement] under conditions not less favourable than those accorded to suppliers of like products of national origin or originating in any other country. The Agreement also requires that such procedures are not to be prepared, adopted, or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to global trade. Ideally, a properly conducted conformity assessment program benefits the free flow of goods into the marketplace. (USAID 2014)
A growing body of theoretical, empirical and policy analysis, including the WTO’s 2005 World Trade Report, recognises that technical regulations, standards and procedures for determining conformity can have both positive and detrimental effects on competition and international trade. TBTs generally result from the preparation, adoption, and application of different technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures. An unnecessary obstacle to trade could result from stricter or more time-consuming procedures than are necessary to assess that a product complies with the domestic laws and regulations of the importing country. For instance, information requirements should be no greater than needed, and the setting of facilities to carry out conformity assessment, and the selection of samples should not create unnecessary inconvenience to the agents (WTO TBT Agreement Articles 5.2.3 and 5.2.6).
It is for this reason that ARSO is focusing on its Conformity Assessment Programme under the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO). Established in 1977, ARSO was mandated among other functions, to Promote and coordinate standardisation and conformity assessment systems in Africa. The Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) for the Economic Development of Africa (1980 – 2000) (OAU, 1980) reiterated the scope of standardization and expanded the mandate of ARSO thus, ARSO to be entrusted with the task of establishing African regional standards for all products of interest to intra-African trade and that ARSO to operate a regional certification marking scheme with a view to certify the quality of and promoting African products. Within the decade 1980-1990, ARSO took a number of steps in order to realize this mandate, including developing the modality and methodology for the establishment and operation of a regional certification system, that is, the ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) and the supporting documentation to operationalize the certification system which was approved by the ARSO Council in November 1990.
Moving forward, in order to effectively coordinate the activities of ARSO Conformity Assessment, in June 2013, the 48th ARSO Council approved the formation of ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO) with the overall mandate of the coordination and advising ARSO on policy and technical matters concerning the ARSO Conformity Assessment Programme, including among other things: assisting in establishing vocabulary and general and specific principles of conformity assessment; guides and technical specifications suitable for use in all aspects of conformity assessment; Permanent and operational documents for conformity assessment schemes; Rules for, and decide on, the admission of Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories; Operating procedures and general matters linked with peer assessment; Operating procedures linked with factory inspections; Rules for the use of test facilities of Manufacturers’ Test Laboratories and Test Report Forms (TRFs). Membership of ARSO CACO consist of Experts from ARSO members and is expected to have a Chairperson and Secretariat established within the framework of ARSO African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM) taking into account the special nature of its operation. It is on this basis that the ARSO CACO members drawn from 25 ARSO members (Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, DR. Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) are currently on in Nairobi, Kenya for the a four day Launching meeting which started on 19th September 2016, courtesy of sponsorship from PTB Germany. Ms. Caroline Outa(speaking), KEBS, Kenya was elected the Chair.
Mr. Alex Inklaar, the PTB Consultant is the Key Resource Person in the Presentations and Discussions
See more photos:
For More Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arso_gallery/albums/72157674185546645
- ARSO 2016 – Business Plan for the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee
- OECD 2005, STANDARDS AND CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT IN TRADE: MINIMISING BARRIERS ANDMAXIMISING BENEFITS, Workshop and Policy Dialogue Berlin, 21 – 22 November 2005
- UNIDO 2006 – Establishment of conformity assessment schemes in developing countries
- USA, National Research Council. 1995 – Standards, Conformity Assessment, and Trade: Into the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1995. doi:10.17226/4921.
- USAID, 2014 – Standards, Metrology, Conformity Assessment and The TBT Agreement – a Desk To Reference Handbook
As a business strategy… Participation in standards work is a strategic move, which brings a business numerous advantages. Successful businesses influence the development of the sectors in which they are active.
Participation in standards work should be part of every company’s technological and product development strategy. The decision to partake in standardization will have a positive effect on the product development profile and production structure, and will help strengthen the company’s market position.
The purpose of the declaration is to give assurance of conformity of the identified object to specified requirements to which the declaration refers, and to make clear who is responsible for that conformity and declaration. A supplier’s declaration of conformity may be used alone or in conjunction with another conformity assessment procedure for regulatory or non-regulatory purpose.
Source: (ISO/IEC 17050).
- Name of the food
- List of ingredients in descending order
- Name and complete address of manufacturer
- Net content by weight or Volume
- Lot no/Batch identification
- Date of Manufacturing /Packing
- Best Before Date
- Veg/ Non Veg logo of appropriate dimensions
- Specific declaration of flavors
- Name and completed Address of Importer, in case of Imported Food
- Country of Origin for Imported food
- Nutritional information
- Nutritional information is the declaration of the nutritional composition of the food. It provides an idea of the nutrition that can be derived from that particular article of food.
- Nutritional information should always be stated in numerical terms. The nutrition information for a particular food article is declared per 100g or 100ml or per serving of the food on the label.
Nutritional Information may NOT be necessary for:
- Foods such as Raw Agricultural Commodities
- Non-Nutritive Foods Like Tea, Coffee, Drinking Water, Alcoholic Beverages, Fruit & Vegetables.
- Products that Comprise of Single Ingredients.
- Pickles, Papads.
- Foods Served for Immediate Consumption.
- Foods Shipped in Bulk Which is Not for Sale in that form to Consumers.
Quality Infrastructure (QI) includes standardisation, accreditation, conformity assessment (such as certification and testing services), and metrology. It is a prerequisite for the participation in international trade, product traceability, environmental and health protection, product compatibility, and supports consumer and supplier confidence in products. Expanding global trade, increasing economic integration, and growing awareness of quality issues on the part of consumers, trade participants and legislators are placing ever-increasing demands on the quality of goods, services and processes. Product quality is therefore a key competitive factor and an adequate QI to improve it is crucial for any modern economy. However, many developing countries and emerging economies do not have a functioning QI. Conformity assessment measures in QI include implementing certification, inspection and testing, advising industrial laboratories, and providing initial and continuing training for technical and laboratory staff. Quality management, at individual company level, but also within partner organisations, including chambers of trade and industry and patent authorities, the promotion of the introduction of quality management systems for process orientation and sustainable management is indispensable.
Benefits of a functioning QI and conformity assessment systems: –
- Create a vital basis for participation in international trade, the disassembling of non-tariff trade barriers, and access to international markets in the framework of the global harmonization processes of standards and norms.
- Provide an effective means of improving market transparency on both the supply and the demand side, boosting efficiency and driving down transaction costs, and facilitating product and service compatibility.
- Fulfill important protection functions for consumers and stakeholders in relation to the trade in goods, food quality, accident prevention, and consumer protection.
- Creates the precondition for improving the quality and environmental sustainability of industrial manufacturing processes and of products as well as for enhancing the resource efficiency.
What is a Standard…it is a technical document detailing the criteria necessary to ensure that a material, product, service or produce is fit for the purpose it is intended for. Standards served as a guide for production of goods and provision of services and are a basis for trade transactions.
Technically a standard is a document established by consensus and approved by recognized body that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities of their results aimed at the achievement of optimum degree of order in a given context.
So what is a Technical Regulation?
A regulation in its simplest is a document providing binding legislative rules that is adopted by a designed authority of the government.
A Technical Regulation is therefore a Regulation that provides technical requirements, either directly or by referring to or incorporating the content of a standard, technical specification or code of practice.
It is a document that lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production methods including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory (WTO).
It is a document adopted by an authority that provides a binding technical requirements either directly or by referencing or incorporating the context of a standards, technical specification or code of practice (ISO/IEC).
Technical Regulations are basically the way legislation is enforced and the requirements of the legislation. It may include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, and packaging, marking or labeling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method.
Technical References (TR) are transition documents developed to help meet urgent industry demand for specifications or requirements on a particular product, process or service in an area where there is an absence of reference standards.
- Standards should be based on the consolidation results of science, technology and experiences and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits
- A Technical Regulation may be supplemented by technical guidance that outlines some means of compliance with requirements of the regulation.
In conclusion when a standard is declared mandatory it becomes a technical regulation.
Did You Know…Certification is your competitive advantage? Certification helps in increasing market share by showing that the implementation of good practise and performance criteria confirming to the clientele that quality, safety requirements, or social, environmental and ethical standards are conformed to.
view more (http://www.intertek.com/certification/)
Did You Know… Global Supply Management (GSM) system is a supply chain management solution to provide the traceability and transparency necessary for informed global and local business.
The Global Supplier Management system involves four core steps:
- Collection and cleansing of supplier information
- Business profile completion
- Risk-based analysis and reporting
- Verification services
◦ Identity and credential verification
◦ Onsite verification
◦ Audit services (social, environmental, quality and security) view more (http://www.intertek.com/consumer/auditing/global-supplier-management/)
Supply Chain Management system measures business risk, capacity and capabilities, workplace conditions, product quality and safety, security and environmental sustainability. This knowledge allows you to map the risk in your supply chain and track improvements and performance, enabling you to make more informed buying decisions and mitigate against reputation risk. The portfolio of risk assessment tools and audit solutions include:
- Global Supplier Management System
- Think Green Initiative
- Supplier Qualification Program
- Workplace Conditions Assessment
- Mill Qualification program
- Global Security Verification