Quality scheme to win shoppers’ confidence

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Quality scheme to win shoppers’ confidence
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 20, 2007, 23:37

Abu Dhabi: Shoppers can soon confidently pick up quality products from the market thanks to a standardisation scheme introduced by a federal agency.

Manufacturers or producers can attain an ‘Emirates Quality Mark’ for their products which ensures UAE or regional and international standards, said Muammar Mustafa, Director of the Conformity Assessment Department of Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA) in Dubai.

The Emirates Conformity Mark Scheme to “mark” imported and locally produced products, has received a good response from the industry, he said.
ESMA is a national standards body and a legally authorised agency at the federal level entrusted with activities related to standards and quality in all the emirates.

It ensures safety, health, economical and environmental protection. The scheme which came into existence last month is not mandatory but voluntary and encourages the participation of manufacturers.

It is a comprehensive standardisation scheme which assesses not only the quality of products but also their safety.
To grant the “mark” coded “Al Alama” to a product, the standards of the manufacturing or producing units will also be assessed, apart from the quality of the products, said Mustafa.

If it so requires, the officials of the agency will visit a foreign country to assess the standard of the manufacturing unit and the process, said the director.

Applications

He said so far about 15 manufacturers have submitted applications to get the “mark” for their products since the scheme was introduced on July 19.

The applicants include three multinational companies and local manufacturers in the steel, food and lubricant industries. The evaluation may take about six weeks and the first quality mark from ESMA will be presented soon, said the director.

He said ESMA’s aim is to raise awareness among the consumers to insist on a high quality of products so that a self-regulatory mechanism will be put in place.

If consumers insist on the products with the “mark” sellers will be compelled to give preference to such products.

The director made it clear the system will work in accordance with WTO’s TBT guidelines (Technical Barriers to Trade) which insists that export and import of countries must not be hindered by regulations which are against international law.

Many consumers who had a bitter experience with substandard products in the market welcomed the new move.

Yazer Essam, an Egyptian said he was shocked to get a plastic piece in a soft drink bottle purchased from a shop. Such an experience may not be repeated if there is a ‘quality mark’ on products.

Retailers also welcomed the move. Kamal Vachani, director of Al Maya group said the standardisation will attract more customers to the UAE as an internationally reputed market.

“It is the biggest market in the Middle East so most of the products are launched here. Customers confidence in the mark will be improved with the new scheme.”

Nine categories to get certified

Although ESMA encourages manufacturers to get all types of products certified, it proactively takes up the following nine categories initially in the scope of the quality mark:

– Electrical household products

– Food products

– Toys

– Cosmetics

– Detergents

– Construction materials (cement)

– Lubricants

– Paints

– Wires and cables

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