Global firm reveals the 8 questions businesses need to answer to gain market access to MENA countries

in Business by
  • UL identifies market access as one of the greatest challenges for international businesses across all industries
  • Global safety science firm tackles fundamental issues surrounding compliance, pretesting and certification to ensure safer products enter the MENA market

A global safety science company has revealed the factors that need to be tackled by global manufacturers to gain market access to any country in the MENA region.

The constant advancement of technology is fueling a staggering rise in tech startups throughout the world and increasing the number of funding options. The constant need for new products and services in the region has led to an increase in the number and variety of firms looking to enter the MENA market in recent years.

Navigating complicated safety regulations, being able to monitor and adapt to the evolving needs of a new market, managing suppliers and ensuring products have the appropriate documentation to be allowed access are some of the many obstacles faced by companies planning to enter MENA for the first time.

UL, a global leader in helping firms enter international markets, believes that market access remains one of the most significant challenges for businesses across all industries. The firm has been operating in the region for a decade from its offices in Dubai and a state-of-the-art electrical testing laboratory in Abu Dhabi.

Hamid Syed, UL Vice President & GM for UL Middle East, said: “Effectively accessing global markets can reduce costs, improve market success and contribute to overall compliance and product quality.”

The key to bringing products to markets in the different countries of the MENA region lies in ensuring that all the quality and safety standards are met. While the markets here hold excellent opportunities, each country has its own rules and regulations that dictate not only what requirements apply to products but how product compliance must be demonstrated.

“Issues facing companies include ensuring full compliance with product safety and pretesting rules, providing proof of that compliance, verifying the quality of goods received from suppliers and meeting requirements for installation and disposal of products,” Syed said.

“It can be a complicated process, which should not be underestimated, and firms need to go in with their eyes open, be aware of the various requirements and source with the right local partners to guide them through it.”

The Gulf region has become an increasingly attractive market due to its continued growth driven by rising public sector spending, especially on physical and social infrastructure, as well as the buoyant private sector activity.

The UAE has become a hot-bed for MENA market access due to its strategic geographical location. Its large expatriate population, liberal trade regime and numerous free zones add to the attraction. Additionally, the importance of component selection makes the locally manufactured products of international standards.

Another compelling reason is the number of global scale events held in the region. The award of EXPO 2020 to Dubai is forecast to boost the UAE’s economy by USD 23 billion resulting in an estimated USD 8 billion worth of opportunities across many sectors particularly in hospitality and construction*.

In addition, the Saudi Vision 2030 plan reinforces economic and investment activities by increasing trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through goods and consumer products.

Syed believes that firms seeking access to new markets can create their strategies to help achieve and maintain product compliance by answering the following eight questions:

  1. What requirements does my product need to meet?
  2. What pretesting can I do to help achieve compliance with multiple markets?
  3. How do I verify the quality of goods from my suppliers?
  4. What requirements should I know about to help with component sourcing?
  5. How can I achieve continual compliance of my product?
  6. What proof of compliance do I need to show with my product?
  7. What product installation requirements exist for my product?
  8. What are the requirements for the recycling or disposal of materials?

UL has its own accredited laboratories and offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia and firms can work with UL experts locally in MENA to obtain the required certifications and approvals needed to sell products in the target markets. Together with the UL experts located in MENA market, the UL team provides seamless support across time zones.

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