26 Sep 26 September 2014
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Region Discusses Draft QI Policy

The region this week came one step closer to having a quality infrastructure policy for CARICOM states.

Earlier this week, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), in collaboration with the Barbados National Standards Institute, hosted a half-day long national consultation on the draft regional policy at the Courtyard by Marriott.

In her opening remarks, BNSI Director, Anthea Ishmael noted, "The expected result is to progress toward achieving a modern regional and national quality infrastructure, according to internationally-recognised principles for international trade as defined in the WTO Agreement and the TBT Charter of the EPA.

"This result aims to address the problem of lack of regional/national 'Quality Infrastructure' to facilitate and ensure compliance with technical regulations of international trade partners and with international standards and conformity assessment procedures, therewith strengthening the region’s international competitiveness and sustainable production of goods and services within the CARIFORUM states," she said.

CROSQ's Technical Officer – Standards, Fulgence St. Prix, explained that coming out of that event they were hoping to compile all of the suggestions and comments for further consideration, as the consultations draft now moves to Jamaica and then Belize for their participation as well.

"This is all part of the regional effort to consult as many stakeholders in the 16 member states, to share the draft policy with them, to get their input and also get the necessary buy-in for the policy. Barbados is the 14th member state we have consulted," he said.

The development of a Regional QI Policy came out of the 10th European Development Fund Programme aimed at removing technical barriers to trade in the region, thereby increasing trade and international competitiveness of products and services with CARIFORUM states.

St. Prix stated that they were extremely pleased thus far with the attendance to the national consultations within the member states, as well as the participation and feedback, including this latest round in Barbados.

CROSQ Technical Officer – Standards, Fulgence St. Prix answering questions posed by stakeholders about the Draft Regional QI Policy

"We have achieved our objectives, which was to consult as wide a cross-section of the stakeholders as possible and the spirited discussion proved that they were indeed interested in the process and had a lot to offer." The document, he further explained, sets out the policy direction for setting up the QI framework and will enable legislators and drafters of legislation to draw on the policy for establishing or updating their own national legislation.

Further discussion was encouraged in each state they had visited even after the consultation, and Barbados has until next Wednesday, October 3, to provide any additional feedback on the policy to the BNSI.

The consultation saw involvement by the Ministries of Tourism, Agriculture, Health, Commerce, Foreign Affairs, as well as private sector stakeholders in manufacturing, energy, construction, local utilities, and food production, as well as interest groups and agencies.

"We really want the legislators involved though because they will be the ones drafting the laws and they have not been participating as we would like in every country as we would like thus far. Each of the comments and suggestions will be appropriately deposed and we will come up with a revised document at the end of all the consultations for member states to approve. The changes made will be highlighted and where comments are accepted they will be clearly seen and where they are not, reasons will be given.

"The intent is that this process is as transparent and participatory as possible. We are targeting the 39th COTED (Council for Trade and Economic Development) in November for a presentation of the policy, but I don’t know if we will make that in time. However, we hope to make an update presentation to the [CROSQ] Council in October for their further input, if necessary, and approval."

The CROSQ Council comprises the directors/executive directors of the National Standards Bureaus in the 15 member states.

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