Friday, September 22, 2023
BusinessEthiopia steps forward to establish national quality council

Ethiopia steps forward to establish national quality council

The Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) has finalized the validation of a draft National Quality Policy. The policy, which is the first of its kind, enables the establishment of a National Quality Council, among others, comprised of both private and public institutions.

The Ministry conducted its final discussions with over 80 stakeholders participating on February 17, 2022. The Council of Ministers is expected to ratify the policy in the current fiscal year.

Ethiopia is currently preparing to operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and is also fast-tracking the negotiation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, Ethiopia had no quality policies before and the existing systems are based on fragmented approaches.

The draft policy emphasizes reconfiguring the quality infrastructure and standards, in a bid to upscale the level of acceptance for Ethiopian goods and services in continental and global trade competitions.

“Ethiopian export products have been facing quality complaint incidents in the international market. This is due to the absence of a strong quality infrastructure and standards. We must improve this, to improve our export performance,” said Endalew Mekonen, State Minister for the national quality infrastructure and assurance at the MoTRI.

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Endalew lamented that the policy is critical to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

“Having a national Quality policy is one of the requirements to join the WTO. One of the frequent questions raised by foreign investors is quality assurance and its governing policies. So, having such a policy will help to govern and regulate the investment flow and control the responsibilities of local manufacturers and products,” said Endalew.

The draft is crafted in-line with the Africa Quality Policy (AQP), which is ready for implementation by relevant parties to ensure African products are competitive in regional and international markets.

Back in September 2021, African ministers agreed to ratify the Pan-African Quality Infrastructure Policy at the 35th AU summit. However, the ratification process was postponed, to be held at the summit in Addis Ababa, which was overloaded with other agendas.    

The draft policy validated by the MoTRI, according to Endalew, envisages consistently meeting the requirements of the WTO, the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreements.

Apart from establishing new institutions, the draft policy will be implemented through new strategies that will be developed soon to help deploy quality standards nationwide.

In a bid to solve the absence of internationally accepted laboratories and quality assurance mechanisms, the policy aspires to provide incentives for the private sector to engage in developing quality infrastructures, carry-out inspection, certification, and set up laboratories at all levels, in partnership with the government.

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