The Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards have signed an agreement that will enable them to ensure Ugandan exports meet international standards.
Once the free zone areas are operational, there will be manufacturing of products geared towards export, and these commodities must meet international market standards.
Richard Jabo, the executive director of UFZA, said although an important element of exporting is bringing in revenue, the standards of the importing country must be met.
“There is a lot of competition in the international market. The consumers out there, and even those locally, are critical about standards. If the goods are not checked for conformity from home, the country can easily lose the market,” he said.
He added: “The issues of standards are number one in the international market. If we compromise standards, our market will fail and the sustainability of the market will also be compromised.”
Patricia Ejalu, the deputy executive director, UNBS, said that under the new arrangement, UNBS and UFZA will exchange staff so that the staff understands the operations of both institutions.
“The products we export must adopt the standards of the importing countries and it is those standards that are accepted internationally; so, it is up to us to comply,” she said.
Ejalu added: “We are at the mercy of the importing countries; we are talking of calibrations; we are also going to do tests on all the weighing scales so that what is imported from the Free Zones areas are of right quantity.”
UFZA was formed and mandated to help foreign and local investors to set up industries and enterprises in the special economic zones where the goods produced will be specifically for export.
Since it was established, UFZA, has not licenced any company into the free zones, but evaluations are ongoing.
Ejalu said “all exports will be catered for right from the source of the raw material, processing stages and packaging. After that, we will be able to defend our standards on quality and quantity at the international market.”