Shippers face two-week deadline for new import cargo inspection rule

All cargo imported into the country will undergo mandatory inspection at the point of origin starting December 1 as the government moves to enforce a scheme aimed at curbing tax evasion and entry of sub-standard goods.

Consignments shipped before November 30 will however be exempted from the provisions of pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) scheme whose objective is to minimise the risk of unsafe and substandard goods entering Kenyan market.

Upon the completion of pre-shipment verification procedures, successful importers and exporters are usually handed a certificate of compliance (CoC).

“To achieve smooth transition, cargo shipped prior to November 30, 2015 and not accompanied with CoC shall be accorded appropriate treatment entry into Kenya. No cargo shipped after November 30, 2015 shall be allowed entry into Kenya unless accompanied by CoC,” Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)ommissioner General John Njiraini and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) managing director Charles Ongwae said in a joint notice to importers.

The PVoC is a conformity assessment programme that is administered by Kebs on behalf of the government and carried out by the appointed verification partners on regulated goods in the country of supply.

“No cargo shall be allowed entry into Kenya without the fulfilment of CoC requirements. Presentation of certificates of conformity shall be a mandatory requirement to facilitate clearance by both KRA and Kebs,” the two officials further said.

Only a handful of goods will be exempt from this requirement. These are raw materials for processing into finished products, spare parts for own use by manufacturers and customised machinery not meant for sale.

Any regulated goods arriving at the port of entry without a CoC will be subjected to a destination inspection process at a fee equivalent to 15 per cent of the cost of insurance and freight value of the same.

Kenya has Ms Soci´vévt´é Générale De Surveillance SA (SGS), Ms Intertek International, Bureau Veritas and Ms China Certification and Inspection (Group)o—as pre-shipment inspection service providers.

Mr Ongwae earlier this month said the expanded PVoC scheme will also help boost compliance with the mandatory acquisition of new fool-proof quality stamps for imported products.

“You notice that one of the conditions of issuance of the quality stamps is that one must present a CoC which is provided for all goods that are pre-inspected before shipment,” he told the Business Daily.

Kebs in August exempted traders already holding stocks of imported products from for one year, giving a reprieve to retail outlets. The standards regulator said imported products already in the market can be sold without the new import standardisation mark (ISM) stickers up to June 30, 2016.

The acquisition of tamper-proof stamps, which starts in September is aimed at curbing fake Kebs quality marks and provides a platform through which Kebs will carry out real-time validation and verification of goods bearing its quality marks.

The system will also provide an online platform for consumers to authenticate the validity of certification of goods before purchase.

The stamps will have highly secured features such as those used in excise stamps or visa stickers. Each sticker will cost 49 cents, payable directly to Kebs.

The country is currently battling to contain an inflow of counterfeits, especially from Asia, that have rendered locally manufactured goods uncompetitive. The country is also fighting illicit alcohol.

New stickers

Kebs said the issuance of the new stickers would be controlled tightly to avoid abuse by cartels and illegal traders.

The mark of quality has in the past been issued to importers in soft copies for printing in the form of stickers to be applied on Kebs certified products or incorporation on the packages of Kebs certified products.

Products already certified by Kebs under the Diamond Mark of Quality Scheme are exempted from mandatory application of ISM, the agency said.

“The Diamond Mark of Quality will be re-designed and certification fees aligned to prevailing ISM costs. Products subject to PVoC must be accompanied with a certificate to show conformity, the above list notwithstanding,” the regulator said.

Kebs said the new guidelines on imported goods would exempt some items including medicines and medical devices that will be under the full control of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board from July 1, 2016.

Mr Ongwae further said the pace and efficiency of import cargo clearance at the various ports of entry is expected to improve following a move by the government to expand the list of goods inspected at the point of origin before shipment into the country.

“Having more goods in the pre-shipment inspection arrangement is good for us because we will have lesser work here in terms of inspection. Goods shall be certified at the point of origin and shall only make confirmations when they arriv,” he said.