Maputo Much of what is produced in Mozambique does not obey international quality standards, which makes the country less competitive, the Minister of Science and Technology, Venancio Massingue, warned on Friday.

Speaking at a conference on packaging, organised by the Institute for the Promotion of Small and Medium Companies (IPEME), Massingue told companies that they were looking at themselves rather than at their potential consumers, particularly consumers in the regional and international markets.

Mozambican businesses, he said, must show greater concern over the quality of their goods if they were to take advantage of market liberalization within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Massingue suggested that there should be greater liaison between the productive sector of the economy and institutions of research and higher education. Companies should introduce research and development into their activities, and should employ more scientists.

Research and development, and innovation, should be an integral part of Mozambican companies in order to provide better quality to their goods, he insisted.

The general director of the National Norms and Quality Institute (INNOQ), Alfredo Sitoe, argued that the conditions already exist for businesses to produce goods of quality. He pointed out that INNOQ has drawn up a variety of technical norms covering everything from labeling to laboratory methods.

To date, 326 technical norms, drawn up by INNOQ, have been published but they are all voluntary. Thus even though obeying the norms might help companies increase their sales and win new markets, there is nothing that obliges them to do so.

Even norms dealing with environmental matters and food safety are not compulsory. Sitoe called for government bodies, such as the Ministry of Health, to intervene and incorporate the norms into legally binding regulations.

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