Based on the African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM), ARSO harmonises the Regional Standards into African Standards. Towards this, ARSO has developed the ASHAM Harmonisation Procedure Manual (ASHAM – SHPM).
ARSO Harmonisation Sectors and Technical Committees: Numbers, Names and Scopes
ARSO was formed in 1977 with the principal mandate to harmonise African Standards and conformity assessment procedures in order to reduce Technical Barriers to Trade and therefore promote intra African and international Trade as well as enhance the industrialization of Africa. It is envisaged that, within the framework of the African Union and African Union Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry will establish a common policy for harmonization of standards in Africa as laid out in the AUC Strategic plan for 2009 – 2012.
The ARSO Technical Harmonisation Committees will give Africa an impetus towards greater participation in the flow of global trade and boost its own internal trade while taking into consideration preferential systems on bilateral and multilateral basis. With one common standard in all the African countries and every conflicting national standard withdrawn, a product could reach a far wider market with much lower development and testing costs.
Harmonised standards and Common Technical Regulation policies will lead to the much envisaged African Common Market as per the Abuja Treaty of 1991, for goods and services and position Africa in the global economy. The Harmonisation process through the ARSO Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM) will foster competitiveness of the African industries, the African Integration and the subsequent African economy in global trading system and thus contribute positively to the welfare of European citizens.
It known that many of African exports, now enjoy, at least in principle, duty-free access to major developed country markets, in particular the European Union (EU), thanks to harmonisation of standards to international standards which has concrete benefits through trade expansion. Therefore efforts to promote African exports of manufactures should be complemented by measures to reduce the cost impacts of product standards, including efforts to harmonise national and RECs standards with international norm.