The question of quality control is starting to move centre stage. Last month we reported on the USA’s new INFORM Consumers Act which requires importers to report, among other things, the country of origin of the products they import to the USA. Other quality control aspects are checked by a number of international companies – EFSA met with HQTS this month. HQTS is an international body based in China which offers technical services across the full supply chain in a range of verticals including consumer goods, industrial and commercial as well as governmental certifications. it also works with its customers to develop a sustainable partnership towards growth. It offers similar certification services to Bureau Veritas, which is a French company specialized in testing, inspection and certification. Bureau Veritas operates in a variety of sectors, including building and infrastructure, agri-food and commodities, marine and offshore, industry, certification and consumer products and has an office in SA.
One of the issues which the illegal importation of textiles into SA (see below) raises is the lack of quality control. This can result in the sale of inflammable clothing which is a particular danger for consumers. In any market with a high level of poverty, buying cheap but unsafe clothing and other textiles quickly becomes a problem for consumers. Electrical goods are another sector where quality control is essential but too often ignored.
Food quality is of particular importance and often leads to barriers to trade between African countries. The East African Community (EAC) member states have agreed on 11 measures aimed at improving the standard of food products on the market. The move is also aimed at ensuring the protection of local consumers against food-borne diseases and a smooth flow of trade within the region. For years, the EAC has been debating the need for the harmonisation of product standards but a concrete outcome had yet to be realised. This agreement to get national standards regulators involved will also reduce restrictions on the flow of products from one state to another.
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