ECOWAS in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has resolved to develop a Regional Accreditation System (RAS) to enhance trade facilitation.

The organisations took the decision at a meeting, held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 9 in Abuja, Mr Kafui Kouassi, the Chairman of the board (meeting), announced the decision in Abuja on Friday.

Kouassi said the programme to support the implementation of ECOWAS Quality Policy, establishment of the Regional ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure and West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) started in 2014.

He said that the objective of the board was to organise meetings of the Regional Accreditation System and Community Committees for Metrology.

He said the meeting also set up Community Committees for Technical Regulation and Community Committees for Conformity Assessment.

Kouassi said in June, the council of ministers adopted the regulations relating to the operation and functioning of the Community Council, Community Committees, Regional Accreditation System and the setting up of the ECOWAS Agency for Quality.

Mr Bernard Bau, Manager of WAQSP, said UNIDO was supporting the ECOWAS Commission to enhance trade facilitation.

Bau said “we are moving into the operationalization to implement the quality framework of ECOWAS.’’

He said quality was of interest to both enterprises and consumers.

“We want to enhance the trade of ECOWAS region through laboratory testing, capacity building and the training of people on food management safety,’’ he said.

He encouraged the private sector to adhere to quality and urged member states to work with quality and standard to enhance trade facilitation.

Bau said that the four community committees were set up for the realisation of metrology policy, technical regulations, conformity assessment and accreditation as defined in the regulatory documents.

Mr Celestine Okanya, the President of Regional System Accreditation, said the meeting recommended the establishment of conformity assessment secretariat by the end of March 2018.

Okanya also said that the meeting agreed to start the promotion of ECOWAS mark for production certification in January 2018.

The meeting also agreed to ensure the technical validation of criteria for the entrustment of national certification bodies in-charge of delivering the ECOWAS mark of conformity, he said.

Okanya said the meeting further agreed to provide the arrangement to improve travelling logistics for participants attending ECOWAS meetings and inform member states of their obligations on supporting metrology institution, programme and development through budget allocations’’.

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