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nisthula@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 18, 2021

Conformity Assessment Bodies are essential to the development of the national economy of every country. The UAE takes great care to ensure that all its products comply with global standards

In the digital age, misinformation, low-quality products, fraud etc. are inevitable. Another factor is the speedy pace of the ever-changing world we live in today, where technology is continuously advancing and organisations need to be flexible enough to accommodate a changing society. Just the fact that the UAE has grown from a land of dunes to one of glass and steel in less than five decades is a testament to how fast the business environs can change.

Amid all these factors, globalisation is an integral driver for businesses to meet international standards. Locally manufactured goods and services need to conform to international quality and procedural standards especially in an open market where competition is strife. For businesses that aspire to survive and cope with the contemporary global evolution, it is only right that they should all conform to the same specifications.

Thanks to its strategic location and its solid infrastructure, the UAE’s exports and re-exports continue to increase year on year. WAM reports that the country’s entrepot trade amounted to Dh467.5 billion in 2020 despite the ongoing economic slowdown due to the pandemic, according to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC). The re-export market accounts for 46.5 per cent of the total re-exports and exports of commodities and services in 2020, which are valued at Dh1.003 trillion. They comprise 54.3 per cent of the total commodity imports, which stood at Dh860.1 bn in the same year, therefore proving the UAE remains the leading entrepot, warehouse and distribution country in the region. This only further proves the necessity of Conformity Assessment Bodies or ‘CABs’. The UAE has achieved major milestones but it is important to sustain these stories of success. For this, CABs are essential.

One of the foremost things a company has to do to get a Conformity Assessment is to find a Conformity Assessment Body. CABs are companies responsible for carrying out audits or conformity assessments for Trust Service Providers (TSPs). Essentially, they ensure that a company’s products and services meet the local and/or international requirements of quality following the regulations applicable in the corresponding sector.

This usually happens in three steps — planning and programming where a team is assigned to carry out an audit plan where the scope, date, duration, etc. are decided; execution where an initial meeting is held to establish the scope and sequence of the audit and analyse the points that both parties consider necessary, including both documentary reviews and on-site inspections; and the final report which outlines the results, identifying the detected nonconformities. In addition, there will be a final meeting in which the audit team will present the report to the client so that he can review and sign it.

It also must ensure that the organisation that hired for evaluation is registered and accredited, recognising the assessment body is competent to carry out the verification and validation services as per the technical standards and regulations in the scope of the accreditation and the certificate provided is valid and accepted in the market and supply chain.

The Emirates National Accreditation System is the authorised body in the UAE to accredit CABs including calibration and testing laboratories, certification bodies, inspection bodies, medical laboratories and Halal certification bodies.

The UAE has several CABs to ensure that businesses uphold the best practices for their clients and the country’s development. The most integral is the Federal UAE Authority, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) established in 2001. As the only reference in the UAE in terms of quality standards, ESMA’s strategy aims at supporting the national economy by establishing a new era of excellence and quality. It is a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ESMA has established Technical Committees in several fields such as food products, construction and building materials products, electrical and electronic products, chemical and plastic products, mechanical products, petroleum products and lubricants, and metrology and information technology.

Unseen, ESMA is working hard to ensure that countries that import UAE-produced commodities develop strong confidence in the products, as well as those exported from the UAE and imported into the UAE. For products and commodities to be traded and accepted by any importing country, there must be confidence that they comply with the importing country’s regulatory requirements. This is to ensure that the products and commodities do not endanger the consumers’ and society’s health and safety. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ESMA aims to overcome technical barriers and trade with the implementation of technical requirements that are transparent, non-discriminatory and based as far as possible on international standards.

Another conformity mark is the Emirates Quality Mark, granted to the products that can demonstrate compliance with the relevant UAE national standards and regional and/or international standards and are manufactured by an organisation implementing an effective Quality Management System to ensure continuous compliance.

One of the companies that have been aligned with the vision of the UAE government and its commitment to the community is SGS. It developed a state-of-art Covid-19 laboratory — one of the first in the region to be accredited by ENAS for SARS-Covid-19 RT-PCR testing; it is an approved certification body in the region for halal certification with ESMA; it has been working closely with ESMA, Abu Dhabi Quality & Conformity Council (ADQCC), as notified bodies to conduct reviews, audits and certification under several product and shipment schemes.

Nisthula Nagarajan





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