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How SGS Helps Make Your Products EAC-Ready

PCA NewslettersSeptember 19, 2023

SGS has always been at the forefront of innovative services for import and export businesses around the world, keeping up with the hectic pace of modern global trading. Now, an exclusive new service has been launched for product suppliers eyeing East African Community (EAC) markets – the EAC-Ready product certification scheme.

The EAC is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world. To guide this expansion and enhance the movement of goods across borders, EAC leaders are adopting a common set of East African Standards (EAS) to harmonize, regulate and control product quality and safety.

The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organization incorporating seven partner states, namely: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania (including Zanzibar). Covering 4.8 million square kilometers, with 30% out of an estimated 283.7 million of its people living in towns or cities, the EAC has a combined gross domestic product of USD 305.3 billion. Operating in the EAC is a great opportunity for global businesses looking to expand their market for products and services.

SGS and East Africa

SGS has been operating in the East Africa region for nearly 20 years and is recognized as a consistent trusted service provider of pre-shipment verification of conformity (PVoC) services. PVoC programs are operated by several EAC member states to ensure products imported into their countries comply with national/regional standards.

EAC-ready certification

SGS has developed the EAC-Ready product certification scheme with the aim of systematically preparing your products to enter East African markets with precision and reliability. Products certified under this voluntary scheme are deemed to conform to relevant East African Standards (EAS) – a set of common and binding standards for all EAC member economies. This certification therefore provides a clear pathway to entering the EAC market, subject to the existing rules of each EAC member state.

EAC-Ready certification is not a replacement for the PVoC programs operated by EAC members. Instead, EAC-Ready certification is an effective and complementary business strategy that enables companies to easily meet the requirements of the multiple PVoC programs currently being operated by EAC members.

This cost-effective solution offers considerable savings in time and other resources, reduces normal PVoC transaction interventions and enables faster shipping and customs clearance times.

Features and benefits

Scope

This scheme applies only to those products where an EAS exists, such as food and agriculture-based products, domestic and commercial chemicals, cosmetic products, electrical products, automotive products, and construction and building materials, to name a few. Suppliers may be located inside or outside of the EAC region.

EAC-Ready versus PVoC

This scheme does not, and will not, interfere with current PVoC programs operated by EAC members. The EAC-Ready scheme complements and facilitates PVoC programs by making the process of securing mandatory Certificates of Conformity (CoC) under PVoC programs easier for EAC-Ready certified goods.

Accredited product certification

The EAC-Ready certification scheme follows ISO/IEC 17065:2012 standard requirements. SGS is accredited as a product certification body by the GCC Accreditation Center (GAC) and the Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB-Philippines), both of which are members of, and signatories to, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).

Benefits of the EAC-Ready Certification

  • Commercial advantage – gained by promoting goods to prospective EAC importers which demonstrate conformity to relevant EAS standards way ahead of the competition
  • Save time and money – for example, EAC-Ready certified products will easily secure a statement of license under the PVoC program. This enables faster issuance of CoC, with all potential non-conformities being resolved prior to shipping
  • Minimal stress towards certification – this scheme is done without time pressure and is separate from any current shipment. All issues of conformity can be addressed in a timely and organized manner
  • Boost confidence – build long-term trust in your products among EAC member states’ consumers as well as regulatory bodies 
  • Enhance EAC regional image through EAC-Ready certification marking on certified goods

Assessment components

Depending on the nature of the product and certification scheme, the verification procedure may include one or more of the following conformity assessment activities:

  • Product testing
    Technical determination of one or more characteristics of a product according to specified EAS requirements. Testing is conducted against applicable East African Standards
  • Factory and desk audits (as applicable)
    A systematic, independent and documented process to determining the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled. This entails a physical (or virtual) visit to the entity’s premises (factory audit) and/or interviews and screening of records to gather evidence on the item being audited (desk audit). These audits may include visual examination, measurement or testing, evaluation of technical documents, e.g. design drawings, etc. and comparison of the findings with the requirements of specification documents or generally accepted good practice
  • Documentary review
    Technical evaluation of documents (e.g. test/audit reports and related information) provided by an entity to determine compliance with a standard or regulation

Grant of Certification

Once a positive decision on certification is reached, the applicant enters into a certification agreement with SGS. This contains all the necessary terms and conditions with which the applicant must comply during the course of the certification period. It also elaborates on the rules for the use of the SGS EAC-Ready certification mark, as well as defining reasons for suspension and withdrawal of certification.

Products covered by certification are allowed to carry the SGS EAC-Ready certification mark for the complete period of validity.

EAC Ready Mark v2

Why SGS?

We are recognized as the global benchmark for sustainability, quality, integrity and expertise, with:

  • A unique global network of over 2,650 offices and laboratories
  • 98,000 employees worldwide and experts with unrivaled technical competencies and product knowledge
  • Recognized authority for assessing the conformity of in-scope products
  • Accreditation for conducting product certification services in multiple markets
  • Extensive experience acquired through developing and implementing multiple product certification programs
  • More than one hundred years of proven objectivity, reliability and integrity
  • Recognition as a trusted partner of businesses, governments, and trading communities around the world

Learn more about Product Conformity Assessment (PCA).

This article can also be found in our PCA Newsletter (Q3/2023) – which keeps you up to date with developments in technical barriers to trade and product conformity assessment. 

Read more PCA articles (Q3/2023)

You can read more articles in previous editions of our PCA Newsletter Library.

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