NBS sounds alarm over influx of counterfeit goods

NBS sounds alarm over influx of counterfeit goods
Smart phones on display.

The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in South Sudan has raised the red flag over an influx of counterfeit and substandard goods to the market from the neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda.

NBS chief executive officer Mary Gordon Mourtat said there has been a remarkable increase in the flow of expired goods into the South Sudan market in the recent past, raising fears that the country that is landlocked with limited manufacturing ventures could be a perfect dumping site for unscrupulous businessmen.

South Sudan entirely depends on imports from or through neighbouring countries.

“We in South Sudan as a nation depend largely on imports,” Mourtat said. “But we discovered that we have an influx of expired goods coming from all regions of the world, substandard goods as well as counterfeit goods.”

She said that the foregoing prompted NBS to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its Ugandan counterparts at the National Bureau of Standards to address the issue.

Over 500 tonnes of some substandard goods destined for South Sudan through neighbouring Uganda were early this year confiscated and destroyed by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) at the Nimule border. 

Though South Sudan has signed several memoranda with East African countries aimed to eliminate the practices blamed on some of the Ugandan business community, Mary Gordon Mourtat, the South Sudan NBS Chief Executive Officer, said the recent influx of expired goods following into her country was rampant. 

How it happens

Uganda is a hub through or from which South Sudan imports everything—food and non-food materials. All goods coming from Mombasa undergo check and certification by the Uganda Bureau of Standards before transiting to South Sudan.

The forum aimed to address challenges facing cross-border trade between the two nations, which, among others, include security, immigration, and business infrastructure. 

The Ugandan Ambassador to South Sudan, Ronnie Balya said some ‘criminals’ masquerading as business people were the ones perpetuating the vice. To bring the influx of expired and counterfeit goods to an end, he said, there will be a need for collaborative work between Ugandan and South Sudanese authorities.

“We have organised crime, where people sit and do things against the law, like deciding to dump counterfeit goods in South Sudan. “This is something that can be executed by criminal groups,” he said.

However, the Ugandan Export Promotion Board said it has already undertaken what it called “export readiness assessment and training” to weed out the criminals so as to build trust and cement bilateral trade with South Sudan.

 “When we are back, we will meet with those who are already exporting goods to South Sudan as the Ugandan Export Promotion Board is working with private sectors.” We are going to meet with them and we are going to have a further understanding of this and I assure you that it will be handled. I think this is important and I think that dumping is not right, “assured Elly Twineyo, the Executive Director of the Ugandan Export Promotion Bureau.