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Friday, October 12, 2012

Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export


by Ia Natsvlishvili

11.10.2012. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Wine Laboratory and Multitest, two Georgian laboratories testing agricultural export commodities such as wine, mineral water, hazelnuts and fresh processed fruits and vegetables.

According to the Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI), a monthly business digest, one year long-term project was completed successfully. “It created a key technical barrier in increasing the export of Georgian products to international markets, we (EPI) with the Georgian Accreditation Center (GAC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have been working to improve Georgia’s capacity in accreditation and conformity assessment,” the EPI newsletter reads. (See also: U.S. Government supports international certification opportunities for Georgian agriculture products).

EPI, the U.S. Government’s Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) administered by USAID, said that now these two Georgian laboratories are opening the doors wider to international markets and allow a wider range of products to be more competitive. In order to meet ANSI accreditation requirements, the laboratories had to implement international standard ISO/IEC 17025 “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.” This year, these laboratories have started introducing quality management systems and improving technical equipment.

A key component of this activity was to support Georgian food testing laboratories in achieving internationally-recognized ac­creditation. Labo­ratory recognition is achieved through the mechanism of mutual recognition agreements provided by International Laboratory Ac­creditation Cooperation (ILAC). According to the EPI, since the Georgian Accreditation Center is not cur­rently a signatory party to the ILAC multilateral agreement, ANSI was invited as one of the world’s leading accreditation bodies to con­duct assessments and accredit Georgia’s laboratories.

It is expected that exporters of agricultural produce will have improved access to higher market seg­ments such as established supermarket chains that require internationally-recognized tests.

The EPI conducted an impact assessment of internationally-recognized laboratories on hazelnut exports, as one of the main export products for Georgia. The estimated monetary impact ranged from $7.5 million to $18.8 million per year on the value of hazel­nut exports.

Wine Laboratory’s international accredita­tion will also simplify wine exports. Wine exporters will more easily obtain the label cer­tificate from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) when exporting wine to the U.S. Before export to the U.S. commences, an exporting company is required to obtain a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label.

For this, according to the newsletter, the exporter is required to submit wine test protocols along with other documents. In the case of a new registration of a wine/label, the products, in most cases, had to be retested in the U.S. requiring additional time and costs for exporters.

Last year, with the help of the Georgian National Investment Agency (GNIA), about 170,000 bottles of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages totaling 510,000 lari (approximately $315.000) was sold in China, Japan, US, Ukraine and Israel.

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