The European Union this week launched a P129.2 million project called the European Union’s Support to SADC Member States in Standardization, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology, commonly referred to as the EU/SADC SQAM project.
Speaking at the launch held at the Cresta Lodge, EU Ambassador, Paul Malin, said this is a five-year project which is expected to provide support in critical areas of regional integration forming part of SADC’s priorities, and will also contribute to meeting the region’s policy goals.
“This project which forms part of an extensive portfolio of European support for trade and investment in this region is an example of our commitment to promoting regional and international trade,” he explained.
Malin said that trade is among nine priority areas identified in the European Consensus for Development because it provides opportunities for promoting economic development and tackling poverty reduction that development finance alone cannot provide, adding that both regional and global trade will be promoted as this project will help the National Metrology Institutes (NMI) in the SADC region to become accredited in core trade related metrology fields by internationally recognized accreditation bodies.
According to Malin, development is a fundamental principle of the EU trade strategy which aims to support the gradual integration of developing countries in the world economy and recognizes the importance as a first step of opening markets at regional level. Therefore, he said the project has an important role in contributing to the development and implementation of a regional policy on technical regulations, and the establishment of a more effective, efficient and functioning trade related SQAM support infrastructure.
“It is good to see that it has already contributed to the development of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) annexes to the Trade Protocol, which are expected to be adopted by the Ministers in the middle of the year,” he added.
The project, he said, intends to assist in the process of harmonization of legal metrology legalization and regulatory control initiated at SADC level and also upgrades trade-relevant measurement capacity of the National Legal Metrology Organization (NLMOs) according to the international standards.
The project is expected to assist SADC Member States to review their regulations governing testing and certification and to create a conducive legislative framework for greater private sector involvement in this area. “Given the importance of this project and the long-term difference it can make in the region to different strata of society, I would like to urge the people that are involved in its implementation to ensure a smooth and efficient performance in order to get all the possible benefits from it.”
The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Tomaz Salomao, was also present at the launch. He expressed gratitude to South Africa, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA), for their support of this project.
“Trade, industrial development and enhancing the competitiveness of our products are important drivers of our integration agenda and we are all aware of the importance of SQAM in this regard,” he stated.
With this project, Salomao said, they are seeking to improve productivity and competitiveness of their products, diversification of their economy through industrial development and value addition, and SQAM will remain a critical enabler. He said SQAM’s cross cutting nature also means that there will be very few areas of their strategy endeavours that will not be impacted upon by SQAM issues.