2 OCTOBER 2002
A significant number of Maltese companies are to benefit from the EUR1.83 million capacity building exercise being undertaken by the Malta Standards Authority in that they would no longer be required to fork out hefty sums to overseas standardisation bodies.
Instead, local manufacturers and exporters will soon be able to have their products tested locally for compliance with the EU market.
Speaking at the recent Free Movement of Goods and Services seminar, Economic Services Minister Josef Bonnici underlined the fact that if a company wants to be successful in the European market its products must, of course, fall in line with EU standards.
He adds that Maltas adoption of the acquis communitaire has provided a stimulus toward adopting internationally recognised standards and the implementation of the necessary support mechanism in the form of the Malta Standards Authority.
Bonnici explains, "Expenditure on capacity building at the Malta Standards Authority has amounted to a total of some EUR1.83 million, of which EUR1.35 million has come from EU pre-accession funding.
"Thus, the process towards EU membership has not only prompted Malta to adopt the quality standards already applied within the developed economies but has also helped us in the relevant upgrading and institutional development process. This is the only way forward if we want to maintain our economic growth and the desired improvement in the standard of living."
The MSA is to begin offering accreditation services to local laboratories in order for their certifications to be recognised by the European and other markets. It is also looking to become a full member of the European Co-operation for Accreditation.
While the accreditation service to be offered by the MSA will facilitate Maltese exporters access to a number of markets, Europe remains Maltas most targeted destination for goods, due to Maltas physical and cultural proximity to the market and the Association Agreement Malta has with the economic bloc.
Bonnici elaborates, "The EU is the worlds largest market and it is expected that it will increase even further after 2004, following the accession of the current candidate countries. The importance of this economic bloc inherently implies that Malta needs to deepen its relationship with the EU.
"Through EU membership, not only will all remaining trade barriers between Malta and the EU be completely dismantled but Malta will be fully integrated within the single European market. As a result local industry will have greater flexibility in the sourcing of raw materials and will find it easier to sell its products within the EU."
Bonnici adds that EU membership would also allow Malta complete free access not only to EU member states but also to the countries with which the EU has preferential trade agreements. Among these are Mexico, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.
The EU is also currently setting up trade agreements with the Balkan States, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Syria.