Latest in ITC series designed to help small businesses comply with trade-related standards
Managing Quality in Egypt: A Directory of Services for SMEs is being launched in Cairo on 30 March. The publication is the latest in a series of quality management directories designed to aid small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries in connecting to national institutions that can help them meet safety and technical standards necessary for their goods to be accepted in foreign markets.
The new directory is a joint initiative of the Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality (EOS), the Engineering Export Council of Egypt (EEC-EG), the German Metrology Institute (PTB) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).
'The guide is a practical tool for SMEs in Egypt to improve competitiveness and increase participation in international trade,' said Arancha González, ITC executive director, and Joachim Ullrich, PTB president.
ITC and PTB co-sponsor national quality management guides to complement their joint book, Export Quality Management: A Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. The book helps managers answer frequent questions about quality, technical requirements, management systems, conformity assessment, metrology, accreditation and related WTO Agreements.
The Egyptian guide provides an overview of the national quality management ecosystem, including the infrastructure for plant and animal health and food safety, as well as related institutions and technical assistance programmes. The directory contains extensive contact information, to make it easier for SMEs to find the support they need.
'Setting up a quality infrastructure system is one of the most positive steps on the path forward to establish a thriving economy as a basis for prosperity, health and well-being,' said Ashraf Afifi, EOS Chairman, and Eng. Amr Abou Freikha, EEC Chairman, and Maha Saleh, EEC Executive Director who championed the initiative in Egypt.
'The guide is a great tool that fits into the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Strategy's 5 pillars, where there is a pillar that enhances and stimulates SMEs trade activities, in addition to the training pillar where export quality management workshops can make different organizations familiar with the guide,' according to Dr. Shereen El Sabagh, head of the MTI's strategy unit.
Businesses routinely face quality management challenges, according to ITC surveys on non-tariff measures (NTMs) in many countries. In Egypt, an ITC survey of exporters and importers showed that regulatory and procedural trade obstacles affected almost 40% of those surveyed. Among quality management-related issues, agri-food exporters have struggled with tolerance limits and labelling requirements in certain regions; manufacturers in sectors such as engineering face certification obstacles; and importers are affected by conformity assessments.
Managing Quality publications: the country series
The Managing Quality directories respond to small business needs identified in the ITC NTM Surveys. The guides, which can be updated locally, are supported by training workshops. The first training workshop facilitated by ITC and PTB on 28-29 March in Cairo gathered together more than 20 participants from business support organizations and quality-related institutions.
'I have been navigating the quality bodies blindly. Now I have a directory to refer to and can do handovers to my colleagues and team members very easily,' said Ehab Abd Resoul, a private agent in the food sector.
The national guides also help identify gaps in the standards-related institutional ecosystem, such as the need to upgrade testing laboratories.
Recently published guides on Jordan, the State of Palestine, Nepal and Egypt are available in English and Arabic and can be downloaded free at www.intracen.org/publications.
The full collection of ITC publications related to standards and quality management is available at www.intracen.org/publications/collections/.