On March 17, 2018, just after Bangabandhu’s 98th birth anniversary, Bangladesh passed the UN list of least developed countries for the first time. In 1974, Bangladesh joined the United Nations as a newly independent country. At that time, due to the fragile state of the country’s economy and low standard of living, the United Nations listed Bangladesh as a Least Developed Country (LDC). It took Bangladesh forty-three years to pass out of that list. If this trend of development continues, Bangladesh will be included in the list of developing countries by 2026. According to the current government’s plan, Bangladesh will be on the list of middle-income countries in 2031 and developed countries by 2040.
Under UN rules, a country receives a final recommendation from a Least Developed Country to Developing Country if it is able to meet the criteria for a triennial review of the Committee for Development Policy. For the first time in 2018 and later in 2021, Bangladesh has shown the ability of fulfilling all the conditions.
The first of the three conditions of the UN are Per Capita Income. Then there is Economic and Environmental Vulnerability and finally Human Assets.
A country needs to have a minimum per capita income of 1230 USD to meet the UN requirements. According to the Economic Survey Report 2021, the per capita income of Bangladesh is 2227 USD. In order to determine the Then there is Economic and Environmental Vulnerability, one has to score below 32 out of 100. Bangladesh has done better than the standard set there. In this case, Bangladesh’s score is 25.2. Score above 66 is required for Human Assets development qualification. Bangladesh’s score is 73.2.
In the case of economic development, it is seen that the export income of Bangladesh has increased continuously in the last few decades. Production and employment in the agro-industrial sector have increased. Infrastructural development is also underway. The economic development in Bangladesh has been made possible by the employment of millions of people at the marginal level and the increase in production and exports. According to the Economic Survey Report 2021, Bangladesh’s current foreign exchange reserves are 46.39 billion USD.
The country that was once known as the bottomless basket is now said to be the 25th largest economy in the world by 2035.
In this upward journey, with the increase in the human development index, the demand for a better life has increased. The importance of quality products has increased in the items used in daily life. Bangladeshi people once understood quality and sustainable products as products from Europe or Japan. Earlier the demand for these things was less. So, it was possible to meet the demand by importing those items easily. But now with the increase in income of people, the habit of using quality products is also increasing.
In addition, the Bangladesh government is now giving utmost importance to the export of domestic products. Garment products and medicines made in Bangladesh have been exported to various developed countries for a long time. But it would not be wise to rely on just two sectors in a competitive market worldwide. In addition to the textile and pharmaceutical industries, importance should also be given to electronics products. Because the demand for electronics products is huge inside the country as well as abroad.
With the increase in income, the trend of using electronic devices is also increasing day by day. According to Cisco IBSG’s 2020 report, the number of electronic devices in a world of 7.6 billion people is about 50 billion. This number is exponentially increasing. Therefore, in developing countries with growing economies, the urgence to produce quality electronic products is immense. As a result, besides meeting the demand of the people of the country, the country will be able to earn a lot of foreign currencies by exporting them abroad.
Electronic product manufacturing companies which are manufacturing products for local people and exporting products outside the border suffer the most. They have to follow one standard to release goods in the country’s market, and other standards to send goods to the other countries. In this situation, the importance of standardization and certification for the export of electronic products and related raw materials of the country is immense. If the standard of the specified product is compatible with the internationally recognized standard, the products will be able to be exported abroad by making the product suitable for local market.
Products made in Europe-America are not alien technology. The industrially developed nations make their products attractive not only with flashy advertisements but also with their quality assurance and product durability. And they ensure this quality by following various standards published by internationally recognized organizations. If a product qualifies for a specific certification, the manufacturer may use the mark on the product. Thus, buyer can easily understand the performance of the product, how safe it is to use or whether it is environmentally friendly or not etc.
Hence comes the idea of product marking.
We see different markings and leveling in many products which are used in our daily life. Different products have different markings. Some of the markings are BSTI mark, Recyclable mark etc. But there are many other markings used around the world. Some of these well-known markings are CE, GS, NRTL, KC, G, EAC, CCC, RoHS, Star Rating etc. Many of these marks we can see on the imported goods. These marks cannot be tagged to any product as the manufacturer wishes. For this, their products have to be tested according to specific standards. Tests must be performed at an internationally accredited laboratory. Many of us think that these markings can be obtained by paying money or these markings can be put as desired. But it’s not that easy. Because if the authority finds out, these acts will be considered as a punishable crime. In this case, the manufacturer’s license is likely to be revoked.
Now let’s get acquainted with the well-known product marks around the world.
Let’s start with the “Safety Mark” of the electronic products. These marks determine how safe a product is for users. Here are some of the most widely known marks in the world.
Let’s start with the CE mark first. This mark is found on many of our everyday electronic products. It is mandatory to have this mark on the product in order to sell the product in any country belonging to the European Union. The CE mark is a self-proclaimed mark. If a manufacturer has specific Certificates of Safety, Electro-Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Chemical Standard of the product, then he can put CE mark on the product himself. In this case, it doesn’t matter what country the product is made in. So, if you see the CE mark on a product, you can be sure that it is a product of European standards. Many manufacturers of products made in Bangladesh can sell their products in the European market by putting a CE mark on their product by testing according to the European standards.
Then let’s talk about NRTL mark. Many of us have a different kind of attraction to products made in America. This NRTL mark is mandatory for any electronic product to be sold in the USA. Having this mark on any product means that the product is safe for the users according to the American standard. This mark is provided by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. It is an organization approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Government.
Now coming to the GS Mark, is a voluntary mark for any electronic products sold in the Germany. This ensures that certain products comply with the German Safety Standard. This mark requires bunch of certifications including safety, chemical and EMC. German citizens are willing to pay more for GS marked products than the products without GS mark.
Then we shall know about G Mark. This mark is mandatory for low voltage electrical products and children’s toys in the Persian Gulf countries of the Middle East. In order to sell products in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, the manufacturer must make the products in accordance with the Low Voltage Technical Regulation, BD142004-01.
If a manufacturer wants to sell its product in China, he must ensure the safety of his products according to the CCC mark. This mark proves that the product has passed the Guobiao standards (GB) of China. Mark is controlled by a government agency called CNCA (Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China).
The last safety mark we will discuss is the EAC mark. This mark bearing product ensures that it complies with CUTR (Customs Union Technical Regulations). This mark is mandatory for products sold in Eurasian countries such as Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Let’s move on to performance rating or energy labeling. What is actually meant by Star Rating?
Simply put, star ratings or energy labeling indicate how energy efficient the product is. The higher the energy consumption of a product with the same specification, the lower its energy rating. Specific standards for the product tell how the rating should be measured and the government agency determines how many star ratings the product deserves according to the results. Each country has a government ministry of energy or a subsidiary body. BSTI does this for Bangladesh, DoE for America. Now the question may arise, what is the difference between the five-star refrigerator of America and the five-star rating refrigerator of Bangladesh? In a word, the obligation for star rating of American refrigerator is much weaker for Bangladesh. In this case, the responsible authorities should make competitive standards, repeal the old standards and make it mandatory by law enforcement. As a result, the refrigerators made in the country will meet the demand of the people of the country, as well as those refrigerators will be ahead for export globally. This should apply not only to refrigerators, but also to other electronic products such as ACs, washing machines, electric fans, LED lights etc.
Let’s move on to the markings for harmful chemicals. Two markings related to harmful chemicals are widely practiced. These are RoHS and REACH. In addition to the performance and safety of the products used in developed countries, their impact on the environment is also monitored. These certificates restrict the harmful chemical entering to the country.
The internationally recognized directive related to RoHS marking is EU Directive 2015/863. This directive identifies 10 substances that are harmful to the environment. This directive ensures that an electronic product has no harmful effects on the user’s health or the environment. If you want to sell products in these countries, it is important to make products following this chemical directive.
At last, let’s discuss the WEEE mark. This is a mandatory sign regarding the waste management of electronic products. The product carrying this mark falls under European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive or European Community Directive 2012/19 / EU. This means that the company importing the product is responsible for its waste management. When the product becomes unusable, the manufacturer will return it and destroy it properly. As a result, damage to the environment from its waste can be minimized.
BSTI certification has also been made mandatory for 229 products in Bangladesh. But the present world is changing very fast. Everyday new products are coming out in the market. So, more products should be brought under certification. The BDS standard should be modernized to compete with this growing market.
Certification marks are given by only Certification Bodies (CB). These CBs are accredited by authorized Accreditation Bodies, like BAB, NABL etc. Our very own NUSDAT-UTS is doing a marvelous work to certify the electronic home appliances under supervision of Bangladesh Accreditation Board. Thus, sustainable development and economic growth can be achieved if Accreditation Bodies make sure that certification bodies are doing their job by the law. They have the biggest role-playing part for this certification and product marking arena. In this “World Accreditation Day” I hope that BAB will continue to spread the idea of product marking across our beloved country to achieve her goals.
Md. Imran Ali