Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment Joseph Kakunda made the remarks yesterday when he paid a familiarization visit to the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) in Dar es Salaam.
He said there was a need to draft a document through the FCC and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) in collaboration with the government of China to ensure only quality products from China entered the Tanzanian market.
“We need to enter into negotiations with our Chinese counterparts to devise ways of controlling counterfeits from entering our market,” he said.
Tanzania and other East African Community partner states have in recent years been introducing new rules to curb the importation of substandard goods in the region.
The new law requires all imported goods destined to the respective countries to undergo mandatory inspection in the country of origin or supply prior to shipment.
Goods which arrive at the port of entry without having gone through the Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) process, according to the law, are not allowed entry into the country.
The PVoC assessment procedure at the country of origin was put in place to ensure compliance with applicable Tanzanian standards.
However, the minister said Tanzania would soon sign an agreement with China to prevent the entry of counterfeit products into the country.
“I direct the FCC and TBS to draft this document and bring it to my office so that we can look at how we are to come up with a contract that will ensure that only standard goods are imported from China,” the minister said.
Through this special agreement, the Chinese regulatory authorities will be liable for quality compliance regarding imports from their country, the minister remarked.
According to reports from the FCC, at least 69 per cent of all the goods imported into the country and deemed to be counterfeits are labelled ‘Made in China.’
The minister said just as there was a contract between the United States and China regarding the quality of goods that enter the US market, Tanzania also needs to borrow a leaf from such an agreement to protect itself from counterfeit goods.
“Trade relations between China and the United States are guided by contracts that, among other things, favor fair competition,” the minister said.
Kakunda directed the FCC to work hand in hand with district and regional commissioners in border regions to stop illicit imports.
“Illegal trade is being carried out across borders, especially the smuggling of foodstuffs such as sugar which is subsequently repackaged by traders to evade tax and levies,” he said.
For his part, FCC board chairman Prof Humphrey Moshi said by the end of last year among 1,536 containers inspected 82 of them were found to be loaded with counterfeit products.
He said the counterfeits included clothes, tooth paste, tooth brush, electrical devices, pairs of shoes, construction materials and cooking utensils.
“As I speak, the country has no common policy on consumer protection and FCC views such a loophole very seriously and has therefore embarked on preparation of the policy,” he said.
According to him, the FCC has already prepared a concept note on counterfeits and it expected to submit the draft policy to the government next month.