Technical barriers to Trade must be stepping-stones – Professor
For the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to succeed, countries must ensure that Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) become stepping-stones rather than obstacles, Professor Alex Dodoo has said.
The TBT agreement aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.
Speaking on the operationalisation of the AfCFTA in Ghana, Prof Dodoo said quality and compliance to standard requirements were key in all free trade areas.
He said under AfCFTA, African countries would continue to be confronted with the main TBT issues because of State obligations under the World Trade Organisation’s agreements.
Professor Dodoo said governments would introduce more and more regulatory requirements to address, among others, health, safety or environmental issues in accordance with the World Trade Organisation’s TBT agreement and the rights and obligation of members.
Besides, consumers will demand safety and quality assurance, while the private and public authorities will continue to scrutinize imported and exported goods for compliance.
In this connection, producers will need reputable evidence that the products and services meet regulatory, technical and other requirements hence the need for certification.
He said Ghana as hosts of the Secretariat for AfCFTA, must have deliberate policies that are supported by resources.
“Ghana simply has to mainstream standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment regimes into the National Strategy in order to take maximum advantage of the AfCFTA,” Prof Dodoo said.
He said the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Food and Drugs Authority and relevant Ministries and Agencies would develop standards endorsed by the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) to be used for the AfCFTA.
Ghana will also intensify its participation in the harmonisation of African standards as a basis for technical regulations, conformity assessment and mutual recognition arrangements.
Most of the standards developed under these streams will be in line with international best practices, but importantly will automatically permit trade across Africa.
GSA will continue to work with ARSO in order to become a certification body under the Eco Mark Africa (EMA) scheme, as well as any other schemes that will be developed to promote the AfCFTA.
ARSO through the EMA certification scheme has established a recognition system for sustainability standards, which functions as a quality assurance mechanism.
In order to support the private sector, Prof Dodoo said the GSA would create a more robust, adaptive, cost-effective, user-friendly and sustainable quality infrastructure (QI) system.
The GSA will also initiate mutual recognition of standards, licensing and certification of service suppliers, which will make it easier for businesses and individuals, to satisfy the regulatory requirements of other markets in Africa