We have been advising member companies for a decade about electrical product standardization and certification in the Persian Gulf region. When we started the NEMA Global Initiative in the late 1990's most of the information we had was second hand. That changed when we hopped on a plane and visited Riyadh, the first time in NEMA's then 75-year history that such a visit was made. Working with the Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO), we learned for the first time that in actual fact customers in the Kingdom genuinely sought out products made in U.S.A., that standards were becoming an integral part of commercial transactions, and that competitors world-wide were holding true to their practice of using standards where possible to deny market access. The key lesson learned, however, was the welcome offered by SASO officials for member companies to actually participate in their standards development technical committees – true "national treatment," a concept popularized by the WTO, but actually practiced by few of its members
Aligned with the SASO standards portfolio was a formal product certification plan, ICCP – International Conformity Certification Program – that mandated third party certification of all electrical products. The acceptance of the world's most reliable, dependable, and safe electrical products was contingent upon their being included in SASO standards. Failure to have a product included in a SASO standard was essentially a bar to sell product in the country
Fast forward to the present and we see the emergence of a new product certification plan, the RCAS – Regional Conformity Assessment Scheme – being developed as a regional plan to serve the needs of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The scheme is being developed by the GCC Standardization Organization, GSO, in cooperation with the standards and certification organizations of all the Member States. In the process of developing the materials for our recent webinar on this subject we learned that the scheme is still a work in process, that electrical products will most definitely be mandated to be certified either by self-declaration or via independent third parties, and that regional GSO standards will be referenced as a basis for certification. As the GCC continues its economic growth its consumption of electrical products must increase to provide support for that growth. There will be sales opportunities for manufacturers to be sure.