Verification of Conformity (VOC)

Promoting Consumer Protection and Improving Trade Facilitation

 

Consumers everywhere trust that the products they purchase are safe, of sufficient quality, and do not pose a risk to their health, or the environment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, most especially, for least developed countries with institutional and human capacity challenges.

 

The Liberian Government is giving high priority to promoting international trade while protecting consumer health, safety and the environment. The National Standards Laboratory is in the process of meeting ISO accreditation and putting in place the legislative framework. These conditions precipitate the need to call for the intervention of independent third-party companies as a way to maintain full control on goods entering the domestic market.

 

What is VOC? The Verification of Conformity is a process that involves checking conformity of goods according to national standards or an international equivalent. The VOC also encourages importers and exporters to understand the need for compliance and its benefits to ensure that the business community is adequately aware of the trading rules and intellectual property rights.

 

Verification of Conformity Contracts are compelling mechanisms imposed by authority to ensure quality and safety standards are met before products are imported

 

How does VOC Work?

 

Under the VOC, consignees would be required to ensure that shipments go through the basic shipment process via the designated VOC Company. The procedures will to an extent require the following:

  • Documentary evidence is required to prove compliance with the required standards;
  • Testing of goods in an approved laboratory;
  • Physical verification of shipment to ensure that the documents match the products and that no deviations, counterfeit or violations are found.

 

At the end of the processes described above, a Certificate of Conformity (COC) recognized in the country of import is issued to the consignee. The certificate prevents the shipment from being rejected and allows importers to clear their goods efficiently.

 

Benefits

 

Conformity assessment programs provide numerous advantages for Governments as well as exporters and importers. For Governments

 

  • Guarantees all imported products are compliant with international & local standards 
  • Reinforces consumer safety
  • Eliminates customs bottlenecks in importing country
  • Builds local customs/standards analysts competencies through training and capacity building programs
  • Ensures conformity with WTO Technical Barriers to Trade/SPS Agreements

 

For Exporters/Importers

  • Faster Customs clearance
  • Reduces need for local laboratory analysis or additional testing
  • Offers better consumer protection against dangerous, substandard or counterfeit products
  • Protects local industry from unfair competition due to poor quality imports

 

The Next Steps

 

The Government of Liberia is currently in the process of drafting an Expression of Interest that will lead to a bidding process for the introduction of a VOC Contract. Like the Liberia Single Window, this initiative is being coordinated by the Bureau of Trade Services with support from the WTO Liberia Post-Accession Plan Technical Working Group whose membership includes the trade related MACs, as well as, the private sector.