The national quality regulator has ruled out making inspection by its foreign agents optional in the latest case of policy somersault coming just weeks after the Trade Ministry promised an end to the double checks.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) said importers sourcing goods for sale in the Kenyan market must go through the mandatory conformity assessment in the countries of origin.
Only raw materials, machines and spares imported by registered local manufacturers, and products certified by Kebs under the Diamond Mark of quality certification will be spared the assessment, the agency said.
Traders will also need the waiver by the Trade Cabinet Secretary to have the goods escape the inspection at the source market.
Kebs managing Director Benard Njiraini said all other product categories will still be subjected to the process commonly known as pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC).
“All goods are required to have Certificate of Conformity except those that are listed in the schedule to the Legal Notice of 183 of 2019,” Mr Njiraini said.
The about-turn appears to reverse a directive issued late last year by Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya saying the rule was no longer compulsory and that importers were free to decide whether they wanted their goods inspected in foreign countries or locally amid concerns over delays and high costs linked to the double checks.
“It has been a huge problem for small- scale traders for their goods to be cleared by foreign standards bodies. We have now reviewed the decision so that it is not compulsory to test the goods at the country of origin,” Mr Munya told the National Assembly’s Committee on Trade in November 2019.
Kebs, which has already advertised to recruit more private agencies to check goods for standards compliance before leaving their source markets to Kenya, now says some goods will continue to be subjected to inspection twice when they arrive into the country.
Mr Munya’s order to remove the mandatory PVOC programme came amid concerns that traders were spending more time to have their cargo cleared to be shipped into the country and even delayed when subjected to more inspection at the Port of Mombasa or at the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi.
PVoC was meant to fasten import procedures and tame customs tax evasion as well as flow of counterfeits into the country.
The law allows the CS to exempt cargo being used by the government to execute National projects and goods and vehicles deemed to be imported in the national interest of PVoC requirements.