Manufacturers tasks SON on protection of local industries under AfCFTA
Local manufacturers in the North Central state of Kano, have charged the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), on the need to protect local industries from undue imports at the ports of entry in preparation for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
National Vice President of MAN, North West Zone, Ali Madugu, made the call in Kano, while receiving the Director-General, SON, Farouk Salim, who was on a working visit to the State recently.
Madugu emphasised the need for SON’s quality verification of all imported products including those from West African Countries, even with the rules of origin in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.
According to him, the commencement of the AfCFTA further underscores the need for SON’s presence at the entry points to prevent Nigeria from being turned into a dumping ground of substandard, fake and counterfeited products from other African countries.
He acknowledged the need for product authentication as an additional tool to fight faking, adulteration and unfair competition with substandard products in the market, and urged SON to look at the best way to implement it without putting genuine manufacturers at a disadvantage in terms of cost and the procedure for compliance.
Madugu commended Salim’s approach to addressing the concerns of about 140-member North West branch of MAN, and enumerated issues for his further consideration.
Some of these include the decentralisation of SON testing facilities through building of additional laboratories across the country, including Kano, and easier processing of import documents without necessarily visiting SON Headquarters in Abuja.
Others include greater protection of local manufacturers’ MANCAP certified products from adulteration and faking of their brands in Nigeria and overseas as well as unfair competition with substandard imports.
Other members of the Branch of MAN Executive Committee called for an upgrade and enlightenment of members on the SON offshore conformity assessment programme (SONCAP) portal, as well as the inspection procedure, sampling and testing relating to the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for locally-manufactured products.
Responding, Salim said SON was set up to provide technical assistance and support to genuine local manufacturers as well as protect them from unfair competition from substandard products.
He acknowledged their sacrifices through investment in infrastructure, creation of job opportunities and regular payment of taxes as part of growing the nation’s wealth and assured them of his commitment and support.
In his words: “We need to partner with MAN to protect genuine manufacturers and legitimate importers by sharing intelligence to apprehend and prosecute standards infractions. With adequate consequences for actions, most people will follow the rules.”
He decried the current situation where SON is unable to carry out quality verification of all its regulated imported products at the points of entry nor accost suspected substandard products outside the ports.
Salim assured that efficient service delivery remains his focus and invited MAN to pull forces together with SON for collective success in the interest of the economy and the wellbeing of its people.
He urged MAN and other stakeholders to look forward to seamless and robust deployment of information communication technology to enhance the agency’s delivery of efficient services and an appreciable reduction in turnaround time for standards development, product certification and registration amongst others.
He equally invited the manufacturers to work with SON to further protect their brands through the deployment of a product authentication scheme to empower consumers at the point of purchase.
He said: “We need a symbiotic relationship to succeed without loss of business and relevance. While I call for genuine partnership with MAN and other stakeholders, SON would not back down from implementing the law by diligent prosecution of standards infractions.”
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