U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Karen Freeman joined Ms. Lucy Ikonya, Trade Affairs Manager of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on July 21, to launch an electronic notification system called “Notify Kenya TBT.” It will allow KEBS to more efficiently inform private and public sector stakeholders of notifications on technical regulations and standards that the World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries propose to introduce. Kenya is a WTO member country.
The purpose of informing the stakeholders of the proposed technical regulations and standards is to allow them to comment on any elements impeding market access before the WTO member country eventually introduces the regulations or standards. Under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, stakeholders are given 60 days after which no comments can be entertained. This ensures that technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.
Kenya, through its KEBS TBT National Enquiry Point has been disseminating WTO TBT notifications through a bi-monthly publication. The delays in disseminating the information reduced the comment period from 60 to about 45 days. The system was slow and reached only 1,600 users. A projected 50,000 stakeholders will use the electronic system.
“The system has improved the efficiency of KEBS National Enquiry Point significantly, particularly by reducing the time between receipt of notifications from the WTO to dissemination of that information to registered users from up to 15 days to real time,” said Ms. Ikonya
As part of the U.S. Presidential Trade Africa Initiative, USAID’s East Africa Trade Hub has worked with KEBS to develop the system under the KEBS/USAID Standards Alliance.
“This is one of the many activities geared towards strengthening Kenya’s WTO Technical Barriers to Trade National Enquiry Point which USAID’s East Africa Trade Hub has been supporting under the KEBS/USAID Standards Alliance project,” said Ms. Freeman.
KEBS is a pioneer in linking its stakeholders with the WTO data feed. The system is accessible through the KEBS Home Page or at URL – http://notifyke.kebs.org/.