Higher standards: Improving quality should provide new opportunities for local producers

In line with Abu Dhabi’s plans to increase the quality and value of the manufacturing sector in the emirate, the government has been putting in place a new quality and conformity regime. The drive to improve standards in the sector should create new opportunities for local producers to increase their international competitiveness, enabling them to penetrate new markets and bolster the value of products at home.


In the vanguard of this push for quality is the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC). Established in 2009, the council is in the early stages of improving the quality infrastructure within the emirate. “The QCC has been established to enable industry and regulators to drive improved performance and safety in goods circulating within Abu Dhabi’s economy and in exports,” said Cassian Drew, senior executive advisor at QCC. “One of the goals is to enable local manufacturers to integrate with the global trade system and meet the technical requirements of market entry in the global economy.”

One of its main functions is instituting a series of quality certifications, known as trustmarks, for industry. Such marks are currently available for paints, window safety devices, electrical appliances and water fixtures, and will soon be rolled out for medical equipment and toys. By the end of 2014, QCC expects to have 16 product schemes in place. While the schemes are voluntary, the uptake so far has been promising. In the field of water fixtures, for example, five of the six major producers in the local market have sought the trustmark and there are currently 54 certified individual products.

“One of the goals is to help manufacturers find new markets for their products,” said Drew. “We try to provide our manufacturers with up-to-date information on the relevant standards required in the market to which they want to export. We are building capabilities to help them meet local and international standards. We are improving the general quality of production.”

Linking Up

QCC is working to establish mutual recognition certificates with foreign quality control bodies, ensuring that Abu Dhabi’s trustmarks are recognised in overseas markets. QCC expects to be accredited by the UK Accreditation Service in the first quarter of 2014, a development that will help improve recognition of the emirate’s quality regime. Indeed, such moves should support the potential export growth of local manufacturers. Given that the council is driving competition, lowering the cost to industry and improving quality infrastructure services such as testing and certification, the commercial benefits of these schemes are substantial. Globally, quality certification is seen as a means of improving revenues and market share. One 2012 study found that 75% of businesses that voluntarily complied with the TL 9000 quality certification for the information and communications technology sector experienced an increase in their revenues.

Emirates Standardisation Metrology Authority (ESMA), the federal standardisation body established in 2001, complements the work of QCC. ESMA employs its own quality certification known as the Emirates Quality Mark.

From September 2013, all bottled drinking water and ice products in the country have to have a quality mark indicating that they have been approved by ESMA. As well as ensuring consumer protection, the move is designed to make sure the equipment used is of food-grade quality and that all plastics are degradable and environmentally friendly. The move towards mandatory standards in this field, backed by the possibility of fines for non-compliance, is indicative of the industry’s improving standards in the manufacturing sector.

In November 2013, ESMA took another step to bolster its oversight of safety and energy efficiency of products in the UAE market. The authority signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UL, a global safety science company, to test products within the UAE for safety and energy-efficiency labelling.

As such, the regulations and schemes developed by ESMA and QCC should improve the export environment within the emirate and support the government’s drive to build up an advanced manufacturing sector.

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The Report: Abu Dhabi 2014

Industry & Retail chapter from The Report: Abu Dhabi 2014

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