Kenya on Wednesday called on African countries to embrace mutual recognition agreements for product standards to help spur intra-Africa trade.
Betty Maina, principal secretary in the ministry of trade, industry and cooperatives, told an international standards forum in Nairobi that lack of harmonized standards constitute huge non tariff barriers to cross border trade.
“Mutually accepted standards for products and services across Africa will reduce the need for duplication of testing when importing and exporting and thus greatly facilitate intra-Africa trade,” Maina said during the 34th International Organization of Standardization (ISO) Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) plenary meeting.
She told a two-day event that brought together over 130 delegates representing the ISO member states that mutually accepted standards will help make conformity assessment activities as uniform as possible across industries and the world.
Maina noted that conformity assessment plays a vital role in the Kenyan economy because it involves a set of processes that show the product, service or system meets the requirements of a standard.
“It provides a tool for managing compliance and providing an objective and defensible means to implement standards thus enforcing national health, safety and environmental legislation,” she added.
The Kenyan official noted that on the basis of standards, the East African Community (EAC) has an agreement of mutual recognition of certification marks.
Eddy Njoroge, president-elect of ISO, said that the world is getting widely and deeply interconnected making it intimately interdependent, at an alarmingly rapid rate.
“As a consequence, standards and conformity assessment have become not just a good thing to have but a critically important tool to service this interconnectivity and interdependence not just for trade and business in general but increasingly for services as well,” Njoroge said. Enditem