The 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme has been deemed a success by its partners and stakeholders.

Concluded at the end of March 2017, the programme whose aim was to enhance the services of Quality Infrastructure within CARIFORUM countries to facilitate the smoother operations of trade, was centred around the development and equivalence of standards among Member States; development of metrology (science of measurement) services; the accreditation of laboratories and the development and implementation of testing, inspection and certification bodies and services, as well as the boost of awareness and information sharing.

The programme was managed by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB) and implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic.

Project Coordinator with CROSQ, Ms. Karlene Russell noted that it was a very successful implementation at a rate, as of mid-March, approaching 90 per cent completion.

“The main elements of the TBT Programme included capacity building in all areas of Quality Infrastructure. We also looked at international recognition of national and regional quality institutions, as well as regional harmonisation and equivalency, specifically related to standards development, and of course the promotion of a quality culture in the region.

“To date we have achieved 70 per cent of our performance indicators and another 20 per cent is about 50 per cent completed. So we are looking at significant progress being made in about 90 per cent of our performance indicators. And as far as the implementation of regional programmes go, that is a very very good result and we are very pleased with the success,” said the project coordinator.

The performance indicators are the benchmarks set in the project to gauge effectiveness and achievement of the objectives set within the overall project, as well as more specific areas. 

The project was a 7.8 Million Euro undertaking, of which about 95 per cent had been spent up to mid-March, which was also concomitant with the technical implementation, added Ms. Russell.

These comments underscored those of Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo at two separate events in March, the Close-Out Seminar in Antigua and Barbuda, and then a regional press conference held via video conferencing systems and linking a majority of the Member States and Germany. 

Mr. Trejo noted that he was exceptionally pleased with the progress and results of the project, and over the coming years, CROSQ would aim to strengthen the platforms set.

“During the next few years, CROSQ will focus on strengthening Quality Infrastructure in the Services sector and creative industries. We will also seek to implement programmes that foster greater utilisation of national QI services by the private sector, public sector & academia. Programmes geared towards international accreditation of conformity assessment bodies – such as testing laboratories, inspection bodies and certification agencies, will be continued in earnest.

“As we pursue our regional development agenda we acknowledge that the CARICOM region is seen as attractive for investment and recognised for our competitive advantage in niche products.  Therefore as we continue to develop these markets, quality must remain at the centre in order to advance Caribbean Competiveness,” said the Chairman.

In offering congratulations, PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Ulff Hillner noted, “It was in many respects a very rewarding experience for us as a National Metrology Institute. It was the first time the European Union directly entrusted and awarded us as a national organisation to execute this kind of project so we have been able to gain a lot of experience along the way.

“It was rewarding because a team was built in the process that spanned the region that included the CROSQ Secretariat and staff, the National Standards Bodies in CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, so in that way it was a novel and innovative approach which proved to be quite successful. . . I think the achievements speak for themselves,” said Mr. Hillner.

Among notable highlights of the project were:

• The development of a Regional Quality Policy that is now set to go before CARICOM’s Council on Trade and Economic Development for approval;

• The creation of a Five-Year Regional Standards Development Priority Plan, which was the first of its kind in the world to provide the Caribbean with a forward scope for the development of Standards. It has already gained the attention of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO);

• The ISO9001 certifications in Belize, Jamaica and Suriname. 

• The creation of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme that coordinates regional experts in assisting laboratories and other bodies seeking accreditation, at reasonable rates;

• Equivalence of standards with five commodities between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic – to ensure the standards set at both trading ends were similar;

• The establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories (CaRLs) in volume and temperature;

• Experts trained in mass and temperature in labs within the Region; and the provision of measurement equipment in all CARIFORUM countries;

• Awareness-raising about accreditation at the national level;

• Accreditation of five regional laboratories and one certification body utilising the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme; as well as testing laboratories in Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Belize, and an inspection body in Trinidad and Tobago which are on the way to accreditation.

• CROSQ’s observer status on the World Trade Organisation’s TBT Committee;

• The production of a series of videos about the development of Regional Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean, which are now available in 17 countries, including the Dominican Republic and Germany.

 

 

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A major consultation on the quality of goods and services in Antigua and Barbuda on April 12, 2016, is expected to be the first step toward the establishment of a National Quality Awards for the country.

In a process being led by the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), and facilitated by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), stakeholders from across sectors including tourism, health, agriculture, business, as well as quality infrastructure development, will gather at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute for a day-long consultation on quality-related matters.

The objective of the consultation is to examine the feasibility of introducing a National Quality Awards to the country that will recognise companies and organisations for their dedication to running quality focussed operations and services, and their commitment to producing high quality products for the country and global markets. It will be addressed and opened by Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Honourable, Mr. E. P. Chet Greene at 9 a.m. The consultation runs until 4 p.m.

It is funded through the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme, being implemented in the Caribbean by CROSQ, alongside INDOCAL in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).

Mrs. Dianne Rodrigues, Director of the ABBS, which is serving as host for this meeting, noted that "the thrust of the Bureau is to offer services that can help promote a culture of quality in the country, and as such this dialogue was a step in that direction".

“We are very interested in what the various sectors have to say about this programme on which we are embarking, and we are hoping that stakeholders can see the value in what we are trying to create and actively get on board and support the process. This initiative will be very beneficial for us all,” said the Director.

"A National Quality Award could help improve the standard and quality of products and services being offered in Antigua and Barbuda, and that is for both the local and foreign markets. It has the potential as well, to be a major branding initiative for the country which is focussing its attention on improving industries and sectors like tourism, agriculture, and health services. One way of getting the kind of growth a country would want is to look at the quality of what is on offer," said Ms. Latoya Burnham, Technical Officer, Communication and Information with CROSQ.

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The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) was on hand recently to celebrate with Eureka Medical Laboratories (EML), as the laboratory rang in its 21st year of operation by becoming the first such medical company to receive the ISO 15189 Accredited status, in Guyana.

In the ceremony held just a week ago in the South American country, CEO of EML, Mr. Andrew Boyle told the gathering of dignitaries that included Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, and staff, that it had been a long but worthwhile journey.

The accreditation road was costly, rough and long but today we have reaped the benefits of our hard work. What a lovely and profound feeling of satisfaction that was! It is now that the work has commenced,” said the EML head.

Technical assistance was provided by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the technical implementation by the German National Metrology Institute’s (PTB) Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) 4 Project.

CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, whose regional organisation lent technical assistance to the lab to reach the accreditation, told the audience: “Tonight’s launch and celebration of the Eureka Medical Laboratories’ accreditation to the ISO 15189 standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories, bears testament to the development assistance and cooperative mechanisms of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme as we are recognising the accreditation of a second laboratory in Guyana within a mere nine months; the other laboratory being a testing laboratory – the Guyana Rice Development Board Central Laboratory.”

The CCA Scheme brings professional expertise to labs looking to get accredited, utilising personnel from the region’s quality infrastructure institutions. In the case of EML, the guidance was provided by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, whose laboratory certification programme to the GYS 170 standard, provided a stepping stone to accreditation.

Additional technical assistance to EML through CROSQ came from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme.

Congratulating EML on the achievement, Mr. Omar further remarked: “CROSQ is delighted to extend sincere congratulations to the Eureka Medical Laboratories for this remarkable achievement of being the very first medical laboratory in Guyana to be accredited to the ISO 15189 standard. This accreditation also represents the first medical laboratory to be accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) outside of Jamaica and the first medical laboratory to achieve accreditation through the CCA Scheme.”

CEO of JANAAC, Mrs. Sharonmae Shirley underscored the importance of this step to Guyana, as well as the Caribbean.

“This is important not only for trade but it is also important for tourism. It is important for health. The medical tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The EML has now enhanced Guyana’s reach into this lucrative market.”

Minister Norton commenting on the company’s successful five-year journey to accreditation, noted that this was evidence of the quality medical service available in the country.

“For too often we take it for granted that all we need to supply is service and we forget about the quality. Eureka has proven it wrong.  ... While I applaud you for the achievement that you have made, I urge you not to become complacent, but to continually improve on and expand your laboratory service,” the minister urged.

Representative of PTB, Mrs. Anett Matbadal congratulated the lab on the success, as well as the GNBS in the role it played in assisting the process.

"I am glad Eureka Medical Laboratories has achieved this and I want to acknowledge the great help that GNBS was providing, because I still remember when CROSQ together with PTB was starting to develop the CCA Scheme in the region with two national bodies in Jamaica and Trinidad, and 15 National Accreditation Focal Points in the region ... We hope this accreditation will serve you well and open markets for you and in the name of PTB I wish you all the best for the future," said Matbadal.

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Conformity Assessment Bodies across CARIFORUM States were encouraged on Monday to work together to build a stronger network to improve the quality and ease of regional and international trade.

The advice came from CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar, as the first ever Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week kicked off in Trinidad and Tobago this morning.

Mr. Omar further emphasized the need for harmonization of standards, processes and procedures, along with mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures covering goods and services as critical to facilitate trade.

Conformity Assessment Week, from November 2 – 6, is being hosted in Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, which is managed in the Caribbean by CROSQ, the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) and German Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesandstalt (PTB). The week’s events are being held in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), under the theme “Advancing Caribbean Trade Through Quality Assurance”.

CEO of the TTBS, Mr. Theodore Reddock told the more than 40 participants in the workshop that, “the road to regional quality infrastructure”, actually started with the metrology group trying to develop a regional project and along the way attracted assistance from Germany, and North America and eventually broadened to include other aspects of quality infrastructure as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement and the European Union.

“I think we also need to reflect on the significance of what is happening now because in the process of developing regional quality infrastructure, conformity assessment is where the rubber really starts to hit the road. The theory is finished and the esoteric ideas have been discussed and now we getting down to the nitty-gritty – how are we going to be really positively affecting the region as a whole … When we talk about health and safety, the protection of the environment, education, all of these things that are important to us are major conformity assessment activities,” the CEO noted.

CROSQ Council Sponsor for regional quality assurance schemes, Mr. Robert Medford, also CEO of the Grenada Bureau of Standards, stated: “As our market space becomes more challenged, integrating the role of conformity assessment will be a critical factor, and we must ensure that proper systems or processes are in place. Without these conformity assessment systems and processes, realizing the full benefits of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be difficult.”

PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Valqui noted the growth in quality infrastructure in the region, as he congratulated the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards which recently claimed the International Organisation for Legal Metrology (OIML) Award for Excellent Achievement in Legal Metrology in Developing Countries. Dr. Valqui underscored the importance of conformity assessment in further advancing quality infrastructure in the region and thanked the European Union for all their development support in this respect.

The key event during this week of activities is the launch and inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) Committee.

The newly formed committee, which falls under the ambit of CROSQ, was established with the responsibility to develop the regional conformity assessment infrastructure as it relates to testing, inspection, certification and market surveillance. This meeting will provide the definition, scope and goals of the CANCAB, along with developing the strategic framework of the regional conformity assessment infrastructure.

Additionally, the week will include an Organisation of American States (OAS) FEMCIDI Programme sponsored regional workshop entitled “Conformity Assessment in National Processes – Building Regional Competence in the Disciplines of Conformity Assessment”. The workshop will bring together both private and public sector, including regulators and business support institutions, to introduce participants to the national, regional and international considerations for the preparation and application of conformity assessment.

The working meetings will end on Friday, with the 3rd Meeting of the Technical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment under the 10th EDF TBT Programme, which will develop a work plan for the period January 2016 to March 2017.

Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week 2015 represents a major milestone for the development of quality infrastructure within the region, as efforts are made to advance Caribbean trade through quality assurance.

 

CROSQ’s Technical Officer for Conformity Assessment, Mr. Trumel Redmond, expressed joy at the high turnout of the conformity assessment bodies from both the private and public sector across the region for this important week of activities.

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A high level Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week - “Advancing Caribbean Trade through Quality Assurance” - will kick off in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, November 2, 2015, with representatives from most of the CARIFORUM States in attendance.

The week, being funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme, which is managed in the Caribbean by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) and the German Metrology Institute (PTB),is also being held in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS). The week, which runs until November 6, will comprise three important meetings for this region under the theme “Advancing Caribbean Trade through Quality Assurance”.

The first event is the inaugural meeting of the CROSQ - Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) Committee.

The newly formed Committee was established with the responsibility to develop the regional conformity assessment (quality assurance) infrastructure as it relates to testing, inspection, certification and market surveillance. This meeting will provide the definition, scope and goals of the CANCAB Committee, along with developing the strategic framework of the regional conformity assessment infrastructure.

Additionally, the week will include an Organization of American States (OAS) FEMCIDI Programme sponsored regional workshop entitled “Conformity Assessment in National Processes – Building Regional Competence in the Disciplines of Conformity Assessment”. The workshop will bring together both private and public sector, including regulators and business support institutions, to introduce participants to the national, regional and international considerations for the preparation and application of conformity assessment.

The week will end on Friday, with the 3rd Meeting of the Technical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment, which will conduct an assessment of the objectives and results for conformity assessment within the 10th EDF TBT Programme, and then plan activities and objectives for the upcoming year towards the end of the project in 2017.

 

Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week 2015 represents a major milestone for the development of quality infrastructure within the region, as efforts are made to advance Caribbean trade through quality assurance. The formation of the CANCAB Committee, which comprises representatives from both the private and public sector, represents one of the more important achievements thus far.

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The newest bureau in the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) network, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), recently held a week of intensive activities aimed at updating legislation, devising a strategic plan and increasing the capacity within the institution.

Drawing on its own national resources, as well as those under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) programme, the BBSQ brought together a number of consultants  from September 28 to October 2, 2015, to aid in necessary institutional development.

According to the Bahamas Information Service, the foreign consultants, Dr. Joseph Khan and Mr. David Tomlinson, were welcomed by Minister of Financial Service, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan; Permanent Secretary, Mr. David Davis; Ministry Consultant Mr. Hillary Deveaux; Project Manager, Ms. Sandiria Hall and Bureau Director, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford. Local legal consultant, Ms. Tira Greene, who is a specialist in legal reform and drafting in developing countries, was also among the team of experts on the mission.

Minister Strachan, the BIS noted, expressed her gratitude to the team for the assistance they provided to the BBSQ, and while noting the demanding task ahead, had high praises for the work already done by the BBSQ.

The Minister also noted that the development of the BBSQ and the two projects ­– the redrafting of legislation to comply with the World Trade Organisation TBT Agreement, and the finalisation of a three-year strategic plan – were strategically aligned to the Government’s mandate. This mandate speaks to the creation of an enabling infrastructure that supports the economic development and growth of The Bahamas. Minister Strachan recognised that the initiatives would meet international standards, while reducing technical barriers to trade.

Management consultant, Dr. Khan, was charged with the development of the BBSQ’s Strategic Plan and spent the early part of the week with stakeholders delineating the bureau’s strategic plan. Mr. Tomlinson, Technical Officer responsible for Metrology in the region with CROSQ provided additional technical assistance as he has been doing with the bureau due to his in-depth knowledge of the quality needs of the country, as well as his expertise in metrology, which is the science of measurement. Both consultants undertook these initiatives with funding through the 10th EDF TBT programme.

Ms. Greene has been working with the BBSQ towards finalising the proposed changes to the Standards Act, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Weights and Measures Act to ensure international compliance with the WTO TBT Agreement.

The week started with a stakeholder engagement; legislative drafting on Tuesday; Strategic Plan development on Wednesday; a Metrology workshop with BBSQ staff on Thursday, and even with approaching bad weather, concluded with focus on technical assistance on Friday.

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