9 May 2019
UAE: New Product Safety Law Also Covers Imports
The United Arab Emirates Federal National Council passed a new draft product safety law on the 13 March 2019, due to come into force in July 2019. The new law aims to ensure the safety of products in the UAE, either manufactured domestically or imported, and to facilitate trade between the UAE and international markets. It also provides for stiff penalties for suppliers of products that fail to meet safety requirements.
The Executive Regulations for the law will be issued by the UAE cabinet prior to July 2019, setting out further details of applicable procedures outlined in the new law. The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) will be responsible for the law’s implementation in coordination with UAE customs authorities and other relevant local authorities.
The full text of the new law has yet to be made public, but according to an earlier draft version (in Arabic) of the law sent to the WTO by ESMA for consultative purposes, the following provisions will be included in the final draft.
The law will cover all products manufactured in, or imported into, the UAE, including its free zones. A few products are excluded, such as human and veterinary medicines, antiques and some types of second-hand products that require repair before being offered for sale (though in other cases, used products also fall under its scope).
Suppliers covered by the law include all manufacturers, agents and any professional members of the supply chain whose activities may affect the safety properties of a product. The supplier is liable for the products offered in the market, as well as any damage resulting from an existing or later defect.
The law states that all suppliers must not offer unsafe products in the UAE; must ensure that their products remain safe; and take all the necessary preventative and remedial measures if their products become unsafe.
All suppliers must conform to the relevant legislation or technical regulations issued by ESMA for products; or to the approved standards that cover the safety aspects of the particular product as set by a recognised agency outside of the UAE, and approved by ESMA.
In the event that neither of these is possible, then a risk assessment of the product must be submitted by a recognised agency to ESMA for approval.
Penalties for not complying with the new law can be severe. If an unsafe product is offered or continues to be offered despite a decision to withdraw or recall it; or a seized product is offered, then the law stipulated substantial fines and/or imprisonment. Fines can be between AED1 million (US$272,000) and AED3 million (US$816,000); and prison sentences of not less than six months are stipulated. The court may also order the seizure or destruction of products at the supplier's cost; the closure of the business for up to six months, and the revocation of the supplier's trading licence.