DAR-ES-SALAAM– As the bureaux of standards of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania work to harmonize their benchmark measures, the heads of these institutions who recently met at the East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, feel it is time to involve their respective Customs authorities in the effort.

“Just as we are working to harmonize standards of goods to ease their movement across the six East African Community member States and eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade, the efforts will still be useless if the Bureaux of Standards do not work closely with our Customs authorities because our tasks are closely linked, says Patricia Ejalu, chairperson of the East African Standards Committee.

Ejalu, who is also the Deputy Executive Director of Uganda’s National Bureau of Standards, noted that their counterparts in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi had harmonized nearly 2000 standards and called on the Customs authorities across the EAC to follow suit.

Lazaro Henry Msasalaga from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards told the regional annual committee meeting in Arusha that the standards bodies had laid the groundwork for future joint meetings with heads of the Customs authorities to speed up EAC integration through harmonized tariffs in tandem with the EAC Customs Union laid out since 2005.

The newcomer to the Community, South Sudan, was not represented during the 2018 Standards Committee meeting in Arusha. However, the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards is undertaking a series of training programmes with Kenya after the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to that effect late last year.

The deal which was facilitated by TradeMark East Africa is aimed at promoting co-operation in standardization and providing frameworks for bilateral co-operation.