SON DG, Joseph Odumodu
The dumping of substandard and fake products in the Nigerian market may persist unabated due to the continued lack of international accredited standard testing laboratories in the country; the European Union (EU) has said.
The EU identified lack of proper sanitary measures and the enforcement of standards as capable of negatively impacting on the nation’s non-oil export sector.
The Union’s First Secretary Trade Counsellor, Massimo de Luca, made the observation during a luncheon with media organisations in Lagos. He noted that Europe remains the biggest non-oil export market for Nigeria mostly in the area of cocoa, fisheries and other commodities like rubber.
According to him the EU is also concerned about issue of dumping of substandard products in Nigeria, stressing that cooperation is ongoing to stem the tide. “Enforcement of standards and sanitation requirements is quite a huge area on which we are cooperating with NAFDAC and SON to do various things,” he said.
He pointed out that one major problem is lack of standards testing laboratories because when you have to test and apply standards you need laboratories, which are well equipped on one hand and other hand internationally accredited so that they can really apply the right standards in the right way.
“For example the system of accreditation of the Nigerian laboratories is still in a kind of infancy and this an area where we would really like Nigeria to stand out and become world class in the way the laboratories are stocked and operated as this will help in the proper certification process of products and companies for compliance to standards and procedures.
In the area of sanitary measures there is a lot of cooperation going on between Europe and Nigeria through NAFDAC especially for the enforcement of food safety rules. What we do is to monitor challenges and try to address them when they occur. We also provide training on food safety hygiene and make sure that trade can really flow freely and not being hindered by standard issues or poor production quality,” he said.
He explained that the trade relationship between Nigeria and Europe is very important for Nigeria, and added that if the oil export is taken out of the equation the EU is by far Nigeria’s most important trading partner.
“We are talking of about 20 billion Euro export from Nigeria to Europe and the bulk of it is oil and in terms of import from Europe to Nigeria we are talking about significantly smaller amounts of around 13 billion Euros a year and the bulk of it is in machineries,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives committee on commerce and industry, led by its chairman, Mohammed Onawo, paid a visit to the site of SON’s ongoing ultra-modern complex in Lagos, which is being built to house 15 international standard testing laboratories.
During the inspection the contractor Architect George Ufot had informed the committee that the project would be completed in December 2013.
The Director General of SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, had explained that SON was always seeking ways to improve the quality of products in the country, by also building capacity through the establishment of a research centre.
“We want to be globally relevant, apart from manufacturers using our laboratories for testing and quality assurance, we will also be attracting international bodies and experts to come for researches in our facility on the long-term; I believe that people can come here and obtain degrees from our research centre,” he said.
He said that “SON needs more appropriation to build more laboratories, revealing that Egypt has 90 laboratories and so with Nigeria’s plan to build 15 in the next two years we are just starting.”
Onawo had commended the SON Director General for being the first Director General of SON to take active steps in initialising the laudable project.