27 February 2013

East Africa: EAC for Uniform Soap Standards

THE East African region has moved to harmonize the standards of soaps and their products targeting to ensure health of consumers and facilitate trade among regional member states.

A regional consultative meeting is taking place in Dar es Salaam since Thursday and will carefully scrutinize 14 standards currently used in different countries of the region and eventually reach a consensus on a uniform standard.The Acting Director General of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) which is hosting the meeting, Ms Kezia Mbwambo, told reporters that harmonization of soap standards or technically known as surface active agents was an important endeavour among member states.

"The technical committee is responsible for standardizing surface active agents to enhance their quality which in turn will improve the regional economy and this is a call for member states to unite and look into ways to ensure business development," she said.According to Ms Mbwambo, who is also TBS' Director for Quality Management, having different standards on the products traded in the region was one of the challenges facing the common market protocol and free movement of goods.

She cited as an example that in Kenya Omo soap detergent is accepted but it is disqualified in Tanzania as substandard because it lacks some quality parameters, adding that such a trend should not be entertained as it leads to technical barriers to trade.So far, according to her, about 1,000 regional standards have been harmonized and the exercise is going on and will be sustainable so long as the production of goods continues.

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