Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 17th, 2018

ISO Standards: Challenges and Opportunities

World Standards Day, was held at the Marble Palace in Kabul, on October 23, 2018. As a result, this article reviews the importance of standardization in Afghanistan and explores the challenges and opportunities that Afghanistan faces to achieve standardization goals.
It is clear cut that Afghanistan wants to bring an end to poverty, and ensure security and stability. The overarching goals of Afghan government are to reduce poverty and improve the welfare of the people. Further, Afghanistan wants to grow rapidly, to transform the economy from subsistence to a market economy, to develop its land and introduce modern agricultural methods, to industrialize and to provide more employment opportunities. To do all these things quickly and simultaneously it requires many more resources than it has or can quickly acquire. Therefore Afghanistan must make choices, in deciding how to use its limited resources.
To ensure this, it needs a comprehensive national Standardization plan to provide a framework for making choices, in deciding how to use limited standardization resources through prioritization and planning in medium-term perspective, the development of those standards that if completed and implemented: Would have the greatest positive National economic impact in terms of enabling trade and economic development, move Afghanistan’s export engines and National Development Priorities, and would likely receive strong industry and business support;  and would have a visible and positive, impact on citizens. Further, to likely receive strong support by Industry, business and the public.
However, there are specific constraints in Implementation of ISO Standards For Afghanistan to fully utilize the immense practical solutions to economic and technological problems that ISO standards offer in terms of responding to local and global market demands, securing access to world markets which, in turn, contribute to economic growth, certain specific challenges and constraints need to be addressed:  Afghanistan has to actively participate in all standard setting forums. This will enhance its capacity to challenge and defend country positions. The inability of Afghanistan to participate in these meetings has turned Afghanistan into standard takers. This is crucial and Afghanistan needs to play its full part in the relevant international standard setting systems. Financial constraints coupled with limited capacity to provide credible information based on research needed to articulate and defend Afghanistan’s interests, has made Afghanistan vulnerable to changes especially when these changes have protectionist intentions. Most of the Afghanistan industries are small and medium‐sized enterprises, compliance to certain standards. Hence, it has a heavy cost implication and complying with international standards can undermine the S.M.E.s in Afghanistan in their access to foreign markets. Moreover, compliance may accompany further upgrading of production processes and equipment which complicates the whole state of affairs.
To participate effectively in global trade, Afghanistan must develop the capacity to meet international standards. This, in itself, is a formidable challenge. Afghanistan has to surmount this challenge in order to achieve an inclusive and sustainable growth in its economy as envisaged in the Afghanistan National Peace and Economic Development Framework.