School bags: new import control behind the shortage

A few days before preparations for the start of the new school year, merchants importing school bags must manage an update of the procedures in force at Customs, which risks disrupting the supply of bookstores. This is the obligation to check compliance with Moroccan standard 09.2.250. Informed of this measure, merchants are asking for more flexibility to allow them to better adapt to it.

Beginnings of a shortage of school bags in this back-to-school period. Traders importing school bags say they are facing difficulties with the customs procedure updated last May. In effect, it is now mandatory to check the compliance of schoolbags with standard NM 09.2.250. The Moroccan Customs administration had indeed made public a circular, dated May 30, 2022, which fixes “the updated list of products whose removal is subject to the presentation of the market access authorization issued by the services market surveillance under the Directorate General of Commerce (DGC)”.

The said note thus indicates that it was decided to submit a certain number of products, including schoolbags, to inspection in accordance with Moroccan standards made compulsory.

A first in Morocco, therefore, which makes the import procedure longer than usual and which surprises importers accustomed to proceeding according to the classic rules by paying, for example, import costs. This new procedure therefore risks causing a major shortage of schoolbags on the national market during this back-to-school period, which could encourage some to take advantage of the situation and increase prices.

For Aziz Bounou, president of the Association of Traders and Professionals of Derb Omar in Casablanca, this problem began last May, when a circular was published by the ADII requiring that imported schoolbags be subjected to laboratory analysis, noting that importers usually buy the schoolbags overseas first, from January or February each year, they arrive in June to be sold in July.

Mr. Bounou adds, in a statement to the newspaper Assahra Al Maghribia, that the importers have contacted the competent authorities who have told them that this measure must be taken before ordering the goods from abroad to allow the rules to be taken into account. in force. The official, however, specifies that the competent authorities were informed that “the circular in question had not been published in a timely manner and that it should have been published as early as September or October, that is to say before traders order goods from abroad and also to allow them to take into account the new provisions and avoid disruptions in deliveries”.

He also confirmed that importers are trying to obtain leeway to facilitate the procedure and adopt a certain agility in this first phase of implementation. And to note that the majority of importers are still struggling to recover their goods, also warning against the risk of a price increase from some speculators. The president, however, wishes to specify that his association approves the procedure in force, but regrets that the parties concerned were not involved in better adapting some of its provisions in order to facilitate its implementation.

It should also be noted that this subject was brought by the parliamentary group of the National Union of Labor in Morocco to the House of Councilors, which addressed a written question to the Minister of Commerce questioning him on “the state of ‘advancement of the process of supplying the national market with school bags and school supplies’.

The Moroccan standard 09.2.250

The circular from the General Administration of Customs and Direct Taxes (ADII), dated May 30, 2022, determining the criteria for importing school bags follows Morocco’s decision to make the standard compulsory for leather and similar products. leather. Indeed, on April 1, 2021, Order No. 496-21 of the Minister of Industry, Trade and the Green and Digital Economy was published in the Official Bulletin. This text makes the application of the following four Moroccan standards mandatory from July 1, 2021:

  • NM 09.4.104: requirements for certain leather and similar leather products,
  • NM 09.2.250: satchels and school bags – Definitions, requirements and tests,
  • NM 04.4.003: school notebooks and similar items made from recycled pulp,
  • NM 04.4.002: school notebooks and similar articles made from virgin pulp.

It should be noted that these standards are made available to interested parties at the Moroccan Institute for Standardization (IMANOR)

School bags: new import control behind the shortage