• Workshops have been held in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to share how conforming to relevant US standards can help boost export opportunities.
  • Organised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the workshops were a collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA), which supports West African textiles and apparel manufacturers in reaching international markets.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has held a two-part training session on textile and apparel standards in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to share insights on the US standards system and the role of voluntary consensus standards in the country.

Organised through its public-private partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),the Standards Alliance collaborated on the workshops with Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA), which supports West African textiles and apparel manufacturers in reaching international markets.

More than 100 people attended the workshops, representing national standards bodies, testing labs, small and medium-sized textile/apparel manufacturers, designers, training and education facilities, ministries of trade and commerce, and sector-relevant associations.

With better insights on the standardisation system, attendees were able to envision how conforming to relevant standards can help demonstrate the quality of their products to US companies and consumers.

Three technical experts were on hand from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and Bureau Veritas to present standard testing methods for textile and apparel to support exports to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a preferential trade agreement between the US and qualifying sub-Saharan African countries.

EAA has successfully helped companies in Benin and Ghana send the first shipment containers of textiles/apparel under AGOA to the United States.

West Africa is a hub for cotton and raw material production, which presents the opportunity for multiple levels of product transformation. To date, a few West African factories specialise in converting these raw materials into garments and textile products for export. EAA hopes to close this production gap and to support the creation of quality textile products in West Africa. The training helped to demonstrate the testing methods used to convey quality in the US market.

Meanwhile, local presentations were made by national standards bodies (the Ghana Standards Authority and CODINORM), USAID representatives and experts on AGOA, EAA, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), and an Ivorian textiles expert and representative to the Technical Committee on the Harmonization of African Standards.

The Standards Alliance was announced by USAID in November 2012 as a new funding facility designed to provide capacity-building assistance to developing countries, specifically related to implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement.

It aims to increase understanding of WTO TBT principles; implement of the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards; improve transparency in the development and/or modification of technical regulations; and more robust and transparent engagement with the private sector in standards development and use.