Negotiating regulatory and market access requirements in the gulf countries for lighting products
Given the amount of construction constantly on-going in the oil rich gulf states of the Arabian Peninsula, it isn't surprising that this is a very attractive market for manufacturers of lighting products looking to sell their products to supply the requirement of the construction boom. With a rapidly growing market also comes rapidly evolving and changing legislative requirements introduced to maintain the quality of products and to protect the citizens of those countries. This brings challenges to manufacturers as they try to negotiate the requirements and take full advantage of the market.
One of the latest regulations which has come into force on 1 July of this year is the Gulf Standards Organisation (GSO) Technical Regulation on Low Voltage Equipment. The regulation requires LVE to be "G-Marked". By complying with this new regulation this allows low voltage equipment, which would include lighting products, to be sold into the countries that are covered by the G marking regulations. These being Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Yemen.
As part of the regulation there are two 'lists' of regulated products; list 2 is all the products which are heavily regulated and require using the services of a notified body, similar to some European directives, to examine the technical design and conduct a type test against the applicable GSO standard (usually derived from IEC standards). Following this the notified body shall also ensure that a manufacturing quality system has been implemented via a factory inspection.
List 1, applicable for lighting products, is based on a self-declaration conformity assessment conducted by the manufacturer. In addition to this their must be a system in place – typically a production quality system – to ensure that the products are manufactured systematically and meet the original design intent. Once the manufacturer has these things in place, the G Mark can be affixed to the product and a declaration of conformity for the product produced. The G mark is the minimum requirement for accessing these markets and must be affixed or the product will be rejected.
It also may not be the only requirement that needs to be overcome as in several of the markets there may also be other conformity assessment requirements that need to be met, such as the ECAS (Emirates Conformity Assessment Scheme) and KUCAS (Kuwait Conformity Assessment Scheme), so beware!
One type of product also worthy of a mention is any product related to emergency lighting applications. These products are fire/life safety products and are therefore subject to heavy regulation in several of the countries in the gulf area, and for good reason as they are products which can prevent loss of life. The regulation of these products will quite often fall outside the usual authority for product compliance and fall under the oversight of different authorities in the relevant country. As an example, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regulate these products through the UAE Ministry of Interior, and more specifically the UAE Civil Defence. All emergency lighting products (Luminaires, Central Battery Systems, Auto test systems etc.) are required to have third party approval from a relatively small, controlled list of trusted laboratories and certification bodies such as BSI. Once approved, a certificate of conformity can be issued which will allow the supply of these safety critical products in that region.
In summary, these markets can be difficult to traverse, however, the benefits are there if you are to believe that "1 out of every 4 cranes on earth is based in Dubai". Even with a healthy dose of cynicism around this statistic, it is clear that the investment and development in the region is huge, leading to big opportunities.
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Author: Greg Childs
Certification Team Manager