The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says ‘eco-protectionism’ and increased requirements for health, safety and the environment is an emerging threat to African products in international markets. He was speaking at the 3rd African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) General Assembly and Meetings held at the Emperor’s Palace Hotel outside Boksburg in Ekurhuleni Municipality.
Davies said that 'eco-protectionism' is emerging under the guise of addressing climate change concerns, particularly from advanced countries.
"For instance, some countries are considering the imposition of border adjustment taxes on imports produced with greater carbon emissions than similar products produced domestically, and subject to carbon emission limits" said Davies.
The African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) is a cooperation of accreditation bodies, sub-regional accreditation cooperation and stakeholders whose objective is to facilitate trade and contribute to the protection of health, safety and the environment, in Africa and thereby improve Africa’s competitiveness.
Minister Davies mentioned that many countries were reforming their economic systems in an endeavour to move from systems based on trade preferences to those based on global competitiveness, and Africa cannot to be left behind.
Davies added that African countries must work together to trade amongst themselves as well as accessing markets external to Africa, and to ensure that products available on the continent are safe and good quality. This requires governments in Africa to invest in standards, metrology and accreditation infrastructure that will reduce cost to do business in their countries.
"African countries should increase their focus on ‘Locking out’ unsafe and poor quality imports; and ‘Locking in’ access to increasingly demanding export markets using technical infrastructure such as AFRAC in their efforts. As you are all aware, the dumping of cheap, sub-standard manufactured goods on African markets has sometimes led to the collapse of local industries and served as a major barrier to industrial development. Therefore, standards and conformity assessment is required to prevent the influx of sub-standard and unsafe products into African markets and to improve the quality and enhance potential access of African products to export markets," said Davies.
The Chairperson of AFRAC Mr Hassan Shaarawi informed the meeting that over the next five years, AFRAC will work towards pre-peer and peer evaluation of African accreditation bodies in order to recognise their competency through AFRAC, the establishment and roll out of an AFRAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement and obtaining the international recognition of the cooperation. This will support industrial development in Africa and exports of our regions products and services. It will also support the work of regulators that protect the health and safety of the African public.
Issued jointly by:
South African National Accreditation System
The Department of Trade and Industry
Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
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