Harmonization of standards made necessary for intra-Africa trade in AfCFTA

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 Source: Eye on Port

The Acting Director in Charge of the Western Corridor, at the Ghana Standards Authority, Jessica Nkansah has revealed that standards have been harmonized across the African continent in the wake of the implementation of AfCFTA in order to facilitate trade among party states.

Jessica Nkansah, who is also the Head of the Competent Authority for Fish and Fishery Products at the Ghana Standards Authority said this during an interaction with the general public on the Eye on Port program.

She revealed that some product lines that hitherto did not have existing standards in party states before the coming into operation of the free trade agreement, had to adopt international standards which would be accepted and harmonized at the African regional level as well as the sub-regional level.

Mrs. Nkansah added, “It doesn’t end there. The countries themselves are supposed to take ownership of the standards. Assuming we adopt a standard that speaks on hygiene. For example, there should be provision of warm water for handwashing. It may be because this standard originated from South Africa which has a cold climate. When it comes to the West African sub-region we may change it to water should be available. It gives the same interpretation of that requirement.”

She added that “under certain conditions, a country can say that the general requirement does not work for us. But that will only happen when that country has proof that what has been specified will not work for them. Maybe we have adopted the regional standard for soft drinks. Assuming Ghana says that child diabetes has gone up, so they want a different standard for the sugar level, they would have to justify it by data and even publish it.”

The Acting Director in Charge of the Western Corridor, at the Ghana Standards Authority, said it is important for such thorough mechanisms so that countries do not unnecessarily create technical barriers to trade by being over-protectionist.

Contributing to the discussion, the Head of the Centre for Import and Export Control at the Food and Drugs Authority Mr. Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng disclosed that with the advent of AfCFTA, the FDA has deliberately made internal organizational adjustments.

He said the FDA has ensured that efficient risk assessment methods have been adopted so that trade is well-facilitated considering the large volumes expected under the AfCFTA.

Mr. Kwarteng revealed that the FDA has had several meetings with stakeholders and manufacturers to orient them towards the implementation of the AfCFTA.

This adds to the initiative to have the cost of registration reduced dramatically with some products seeing up to 80% reduction.

“Paracetamol was USD 3,600. Now it is USD 700. For Food it used to be GH¢1800, now it is GH¢450,” he said.

He also explained that while the FDA maintains a thorough approach to the necessary checks and assessments, the time limit for registration has also been reduced significantly.

“If you consider the United States of America, registration of a single drug can take a year, but in Ghana, now it takes about 6 months. Some food products can even take a week,” Mr. Kwarteng added.

However, he advised that manufacturers and importers would do themselves a big service if they begin registration processes very early prior to the importation of FDA-regulated products into Ghana.

Source: Eye on Port