The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved USD750,000 in funding for a programme that will assist the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with strengthening intra-regional trade.
At least five countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Suriname – will benefit from three interventions to be implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
“This programme will assist producers with overcoming some of the challenges encountered when trying to export their products, and will therefore enhance their ability to increase market access, penetrate new markets and integrate into global value chains,” said Mr. Daniel Best, Director of Projects, CDB.
“Some of the key constraints manufacturers, exporters and service providers in the CARICOM face are caused by non-tariff trade barriers, otherwise known as Technical Barriers to Trade,” he added.
The Director also noted that well-functioning quality infrastructure can minimize TBTs, open doors for producers in CARICOM countries to regional and international markets, and help them to raise the standard of their production processes, thereby enhancing their competitiveness.
Quality infrastructure refers to the public and private institutional framework required to implement standardisation, accreditation and conformity assessment services, including inspection, testing, and laboratory and product certification.
The CDB-funded interventions will assist with bringing Regional goods in line with international standards.
- developing National Quality Policies intended to protect consumers and safeguard human health, safety, and the environment;
- technical assistance to two testing laboratories – to be chosen from among the five countries – for International Standards Organisation (ISO) 10725 accreditation; and
- development and implementation of an awareness campaign to promote and sensitise stakeholders, particularly women, indigenous people, youth and other minority and at risk groups, on matters related to the development and implementation of quality policies, and to improve knowledge and use of accredited testing services.
CROSQ is scheduled to commence the 18-month Strengthening of Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme in May, 2018. The interventions to be rolled out under the initiative are consistent with the Bank’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development within its Borrowing Member Countries.
(Source: CDB Press Release)
The following is an edited version of the speech by Outgoing Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality, Mr. Jose Trejo at the Opening of the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held at Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts & Nevis on October 5, 2017.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 31st Council Meeting of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality. A special welcome to the Acting Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Weekes, we are glad that you could be here with us this morning to share a little bit of your time, surely enough we welcome you to stay for our seminar that will follow immediately after, to learn about the strides we are making in energy standards etc. Let me also extend our sincerest gratitude to our host, Mr. Hiram Williams, Director of the St. Kitts Bureau of Standards for receiving us so graciously during our short stay. To the Directors, friends and colleagues present, I extend a warm welcome.
Before I address you, in my last capacity as Chairman of the Council, I would like to take this time to express our deepest sympathies to all the Caribbean Islands – CARICOM and non-CARICOM – that have been devastated by the passing of two successive and powerful hurricanes in the likes of Irma and Maria. As I watched the images light up on the television screen, I admittedly was jaded, as I am sure most of us were, in disbelief that this could be happening and that it did. The images that you no doubt have seen are a stark reminder that Mother Nature unleashes her fury at will and that the only thing that we can be thankful for in the aftermath, is life itself. Anything outside of this can be replaced. Anything outside of this can be rebuilt; but more so it speaks to the resolve of the unbreakable human spirit to carry on despite the heartbreaking devastation. I am positive that the strength and courage of the peoples of the Caribbean will prevail and that life as we know it will return to some sense of normalcy. We wish for a speedy recovery with the hope that the rhythmic sounds of steel pan and salsa will soon reverberate, flowing from the comfort of homes into the streets, fast restoring what we have come to recognise as truly Caribbean.
Colleagues, now to the order of business. As we gather here today at this 31st meeting, there is an enormous sense of pride felt as I reflect on what we collectively have achieved. It is without question that the Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) that we have been tirelessly focusing on over the past decade, is now bearing fruit. In no special order, the region boasts its first ever Regional Quality Policy; a 5-year regional standards development priority plan; laboratories accredited with some as I speak in the pipeline; establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories in Volume and Temperature; Quality Awards schemes developed, marketing and communication plans that in principle are packaged to promote and sell QI services; a Secretariat that has developed an on-demand skill-set that can now confidently extend itself to the wider region. Fair to say that the majority of this was accomplished under the 10th EDF-TBT project executed by the PTB with CROSQ and INDOCAL serving as sub-executing agencies.
To this end, it is important to recognise the technical and financial support that the region has received from its regional and international partners and donor agencies. Arms outstretched, it also serves as given testimony that the region has slowly gained the trust and confidence of it partners and agencies as evidenced in the scaling up of recent initiatives, namely CDB, Tradecom and the PTB to mention a few. As this pool widens so will the benefits flow towards the continued advancement of the RQI.
Colleagues, as we push towards a new frontier we are bound to encounter challenges. I therefore urge you to be ever so mindful that we must in collective fashion, continue to rally as a group to overcome these challenges. Please allow me to say, that no one institution should bear the burden and struggle of solving institutional challenges on its own especially when among you is a repository of experiences that can be draw upon to provide the lift that we more than often need.
With this, I ask those of you who have spent a great portion of your professional careers in quality systems to continue to provide your support and to continue to be the stalwarts for QI. To the new comers – and once upon a time I would consider myself in this group but my grey hair now tells me otherwise – I want to encourage you to be open and willing to bring fresh and innovative ideas to a dynamic field that could never be short of it.
If you will allow me, I would now like to personally thank the Council for giving me this opportunity to serve as the Chairman. It was indeed an honour and privilege to serve in this capacity for the past two years. It was quite an experience, as I have candidly echoed to some of you, much of the credit is due to the work of the CEO and the staff of the Secretariat. Under his sound leadership and support CROSQ is gradually distinguishing itself from the pack, elevating itself as a premier CARICOM Organisation on this platform for RQI.
The CEO continues to thread the needle to ensure that the internal environment at the level of the Secretariat continues to evolve to meet the multidimensional and multidisciplinary needs of the external environment in our region. This has brought to bear a Branding Strategy that is tightly knit to meet the region’s needs in an efficient and effective manner. It should come as no surprise then that we are indeed turning heads. The CEO’s efforts to draw the attention of regional and international organisations to the unfolding of an RQI in the Caribbean has been nothing short of relentless.
This pivoted on the successes that the region has been experiencing despite the multiplicity of needs across an economic and geographical space that may at times, appear far and wide. The push for the RQI in the Caribbean to stand its own, is an opportunity to explore new frontiers across other regional organisations that not only can assist and support our region but that can also equally learn from us. The CEO has ensured that this plays out to the tune of a region that is outward looking; fully embracing of new alliances that will undoubtedly propel the growth and development of the RQI further into the foreseeable future. To the CEO and his staff, I extend my deepest and sincerest gratitude for all the support that they have given me during this time.
I think it is most appropriate to close with a bold declaration that the RQI is on an unprecedented path of development and as it continues to gather momentum, I remain ever so excited and positive about its future. It is my sincerest hope that we continue to support the Secretariat and the incoming Chair as they carry us into what I consider a promising future.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, let not our hearts be troubled, the RQI is in a good place. I welcome you and thank you once again.”
(Mr. Trejo is also the Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards.)