Standardization's official application in Egypt started in 1957, when presidential decree number 29/1957 established the Egyptian Organization for Standardization (EOS). In 1997, the organization's name was modified to Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality Control. This organization is entrusted to test products, materials, and industrial calibrations. The organization singularly sets, accredits, and issues the Egyptian Standard Specifications, as well as modifies or cancels standards. Specifications are set by means of approximately 90 technical committees, each consisting of 10 to 15 members that represent all concerned parties (governmental, research, censorship/surveillance/ control, productivity, consumer safety, etc.).
The EOS issued 4000 specifications in 2001, and 500 new standards are currently in process. The organization regularly issues specifications according to the international Standards Organization (ISO). Egyptian specifications cover many fields such as the food industry, building materials, thermal equipment, engineering and electrical industries, mining, chemical industries, textile industries, environmental activities, etc. They focus on product quality and specifications, packing, wrapping, and documentation.
Most of these specifications are optional except for those related to general health, public security, and consumer protection. A ministerial decision issued by the Ministry of Industry is needed to require compliance to these specifications. Obligatory standards constitute around 15% of the total number of Egyptian specifications.
There are three main official Egyptian governmental organizations involved in developing and enforcing the standards used and applied in Egypt. They are:
Egyptian Organization for Standards and Quality Control (EOS):
The EOS is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry. The organization is responsible for issuing and developing Egyptian standards for raw materials, industrial products, measuring and testing instruments, technical inspections, quality control, calibration, and technical classifications and terminology. Since its establishment in 1957, the EOS has been considered a national reference in all matters relating to standardization and quality control. EOS is declared the official and competent national authority in Egypt granting licenses permitting the application of the quality mark to domestic industrial goods and products i.e. EOS is the organization that issues conformity and The Egyptian Quality Mark. The EOS does not have the right to decide which commodities are subjected to import and export control. From a legal perspective, the Minister of Trade and Supply is the sole authority for making such decisions.
General Organization of Import and Export Control (GOIEC):
GOIEC is affiliated to the Ministry of Supply and Home Trade. GOIEC currently has 22 offices and laboratories located at all the major sea and airports for import inspection as well as 11 others located throughout the country for export inspection. GOIEC has the responsibility for testing imported and exported products to ensure they meet the
stipulations of EOS standards. Moreover, GOIEC may also indirectly generate standards through the use of an "ad hoc" technical committee. This committee provides recommendations for either creating or modifying a standard accordingly, and these recommendations are then passed on to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry to be authorized and formalized. Similarly, GOIEC also tests products for consumer protection against economic fraud and deceptive practices- not solely for quality purposes. A 1999 Presidential Decree assigned GOIEC as the coordinator for all import inspections.
The National Institute for Standards (NIS):
NIS is affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. NIS is Egypt's primary standards laboratory. NIS is mostly concerned with measurements, testing, calibration, accreditation and consultation, and it also provides laboratory accreditation services.
For an imported shipment to be accepted at customs in Egypt, the shipment must have the following documents: Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, Packing List, Bill of Lading, Pro Forma Invoice, and Letter of Credit.
The current import regulations require that every component of a product be inspected, regardless of the compliance history of the product, country of origin, exporter, shipper, or importer. All products that fall under the category of obligatory standards cannot be put up for direct sale on the Egyptian market without first conforming to Egyptian specifications. If there are no Egyptian standards that suit the imported product then it must be defined using the standards of one of the international organizations that Egypt is affiliated with e.g. ISO, IEC, and Codex Alimentarius.
On arrival of a shipment to the Egyptian ports, the process that takes place is as follows:
1) A committee from both the customs and security bodies checks the shipment for security reasons and for any illegal imports.
2) The importer presents the customs officials with the documentation required to clear the shipment.
3) After reviewing these documents, customs either clears the shipments for release to the importer directly or directs the consignment to other bodies, usually the GOIEC for testing and inspection. Customs duties are then assigned, and are paid in Egyptian pounds.
Inspection and testing of the imported goods will differ according to the nature of the consignment. Agricultural products for example, are sent to special agricultural authorities for detailed chemical inspection in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Industrial and manufactured commodities may be directed for control at the Ministry of Industry. Some medical products, for example, will be directed to the Ministry of Health, EOS and other accredited laboratories. Since the establishment of GOIEC, it is mandatory that a sample be sent to the institute, most of the time for the sole purpose of classifying of the product according to HS codes. This process is a vital procedure in many cases where customs is unsure about product classification and tariffs due. Therefore, a number of different bodies legally have the rights to take samples of the imported shipment for further inspection and testing.
A large number of items are repeatedly imported into Egypt. Previous rules specified that every shipment must be tested to verify its conformity to standards requirements, irrespective of whether the preceding shipments were accepted or rejected, meaning inspection and testing must be repeated each time. The EOS has recently used past
history of products, manufacturers, exporters and importers for clearing imported goods. When the product is first imported, it has to go through full inspection. If it is imported frequently within a year and each time all inspection procedures are cleared, then the product has a history file leading to reduced inspection afterwards. The exporter gains accreditation the more shipments are imported into Egypt.
The Egyptian Quality Mark scheme is based on the international standards listed in the ISO/IEC Guide 28/1982. Presidential Decree No. 392/1979 stipulates that the Egyptian Organization for Standards and Quality Control (EOS) is the national authority in the Arab Republic of Egypt to grant licenses permitting the application of the quality to industrial goods and products. Such licenses are only available for domestically produced goods, since acquiring such a quality mark involves not only the testing of the product, but also the inspection of the whole production line, similar to ISO accreditation. Hence, it is not viable for imported products, since inspection of the actual production company will have to take place.
In 1996, a Ministerial Decree No. 180 stated that all imports must abide by Egyptian product standards. In the case where there are no Egyptian standards that fit in with a specific imported product then the international standards listed below, in order of precedence, are acceptable:
- International Standards- ISO/IEC
- European Standards (EN)- if there are none, then British Standards (BS), German (DIN), French (NF) standards are applied
- American Standards (ANS)
- Japanese Standards (JIS)
- Codex Standards for food products.
• In the absence of an Egyptian or international standard, authorities often will refer to the Analysis Certificate
• accompanying the product.
All certificates issued concerning the shipment’s details, must be countersigned by the Chamber of Commerce and notarized by the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin.
Presidential Decree 312/1996 established the Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC), a governmental organization. EGAC has contracted with UKAS of the United Kingdom to provide technical assistance during the early stage of its function EGAC/UKAS joint accreditation will be practiced for a transition period. The accreditation activity is to be carried out according to the relevant international requirements (ISO/IES guides 58,61,62,65 and 66 as well as ISO/IEC TR 17010 and 17020). Accreditation activity covers: product certification, system certifiers, inspection bodies, and testing and calibration laboratories and personnel certifiers
Publication of Technical Regulations
The Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC) is currently publishing a directory for all the companies that have been accredited for ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 certificates.
The EOS library is the only library in Egypt specializing in the field of Standard Specifications and its related publications.
The library has more than 160,000 standard specifications in the form of complete groups, among these are 4000 Egyptian standards, and standards groups of more than 30 countries and regional and international organizations such as ISO, IEC, CODEX, and AIDMO as well as foreign standardization organizations. The library has also a large collection of catalogues, specification guides, bulletins, and magazines in the field of Standardization and its related activities alongside some references, books, and specialized dictionaries.
Labeling and Marking
Most imports require certain labeling and packaging requirements, especially food products.
Production and expiration dates must be clearly shown on the package. Information on the label cannot be easily erased, scratched or altered. Information must be written in Arabic also. Dates are accepted in English, but the words "production" and "expiry" must be written in Arabic. The label must include: Name and address of manufacturer /Brand or trade mark (if applicable)/Country of origin, type of product/Name and address of importer/Production and expiration dates/Product use instructions (optional)/Ingredients/Storage instructions or storage temperature/Net weight/Gross weight and total number of packages per case or carton/If preservatives are being used- percentages of each preservative must be indicated.The Commercial Office in the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in the country where the product originated must then approve all these labeling requirements.
Article 74 of the Import and Export regulations stipulates that the package should be fit for preserving the product, and the product should occupy the space of the container in full. If a container is wooden, the container itself should be
accompanied by an official certificate that states it is free from wood-harmful pests and insects.
Multiple product samples:
Sampling and inspection duties are mainly carried out by the GOIEC, however, some products may be subject to inspection by other concerned institutions. GOIEC has been authorized to assume inspection and certification functions without referral to any higher authority, but for the food industry, for example, there are 3-4 bodies involved that have the right to take samples from any imported shipment. They are:
The Radiation Department of the Ministry of Energy and Electricity
The Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Agriculture (Veterinary Office)
The Ministry of Supply (Import and Export Control)
Each agency draws its own sample and tests it independently.
Source: US. Commercial Dept.
Egyptian Chemical Standards & Specifications