group photo at NEP Launch and awareness seminar lilongwe malawiThe Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) has set up a national enquiry point in September 2014 to help companies in the export sector have easy access to rules governing their trade in countries party to the World Trade Organization.

A total of 150 stakeholders attended the event, which was designed to increase understanding of NEP functions and their importance in international trade. 

 

Feed the Future Coordinator Lynn Schneider gave USAID’s keynote address, while Economic Officer Heather Dressler represented the US Embassy in Malawi. Mr. Evans Chinembiri attended on behalf of USAID/Southern Africa. 

Speaking at the NEP Launch in Lilongwe on behalf of the USAID/Malawi Mission Director the USAID/Malawi, Ms. Lynn Schneider said:

Feed the Future Coordinator, Lynn Schneider

“This tool is crucial to importers and exporter of goods in a country reducing the time and cost of trade, since it offers a single contact point to which requests for information can be made This will also reduce significant detrimental impact on food security in Malawi.”

“I believe that Malawi can fulfill its obligations as a WTO member and utilize twenty-first century tools to streamline trade, improve food security, and encourage investment in the region”, she continued.

About the National Enquiry Point Project

The WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade requires each WTO member state to set up a National Enquiry Point and notification authority to help encourage fair and effective trade standards. Without a National Enquiry Point, the private sector has no simple and accessible means of gathering trade information.

Ministry of Industry and Trade Permanent Secretary, Randson Mwadiwa
“The business sector is encouraged to make use of the National Enquiry Point to obtain information regarding standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures of their products and the target market, this will minimize incidences of their product being rejected since they would have obtained information of the requirement in advance,” said the guest of honor, Ministry of Industry and Trade Permanent Secretary, Randson Mwadiwa.
 
“NEP is a very important initiative as we have been struggling to find adequate information. I think after today’s briefing, I am more confident about how to find out the necessary information,” Magrate Ngwira Marketing and Distribution officer, Fine Foods and Winery. ‘It’s critically important the more regional collaboration in any of these things the better and regional information coordination is extremely important.”

The History of the Project

USAID has been working for over a year with the Malawi Bureau of Standards to launch a National Enquiry Point. In December 2013, USAID and the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) trained 20 officials on usage of the Enquiry Point with a series of highly-regarded workshops that covered the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement and obligations of WTO members. The workshops also outlined the roles and responsibilities of the enquiry point and notification authority; explained its operations and management; dissected information flows and relationships; and covered the important next steps to ensuring a fully functioning enquiry point in their country.

Three Malawian officials went to the United States on a benchmarking visit to observe a working Enquiry Point in action. The delegates met with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, spent three days at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and two days at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in Washington DC where they received a comprehensive overview of the process and returned home ready to implement an effective Enquiry Point in Malawi.

USAID also provided infrastructure support by purchasing essential IT equipment and office furniture needed for Malawi’s National Enquiry Point. The Launch and awareness seminars were the final stages of the NEP where USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, in conjunction with the MBS organized launch and awareness seminars for the Malawi NEP held in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu on September 22, 24 and 26 respectively. The launch created awareness and increased understanding of the functions of a NEP and its importance in international trade.

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