The establishment of the first public/private sector network to oversee issues of quality assurance for testing, inspection and certification bodies, has been described by a top European Union official as a positive and necessary step in the Caribbean.
Speaking at the opening of the Second Meeting of Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB), held from November 17-18, 2016, at Accra Beach Resort in Barbados, the EU’s Team Leader for Regional Cooperation, Mr. Luca Pierantoni noted that with its formation the body could address two challenges – ensuring consumer protection and facilitating trade.
“[We] care because we are all consumers . . . So it is a chain in a way and this is why there is a particular importance of conformity assessment, of specification, all along the path of the chain of production.
“The second [it addresses] is obviously trade, and this is particularly crucial in the region, and this is also the reason why we are supporting this in the framework of the work that we do in terms of assistance for the implementation of the Economic Partnership-Agreement, which was signed as you know in 2008 and which is under implementation now,” said Mr. Pierantoni.
The Meeting was a joint CROSQ and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) meeting, funded by the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) initiatives for Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.
Mr Pierantoni highlighted the collaboration with the German Metrology Institute (PTB) which managed the TBT component, alongside implementers, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic.
Further praising the steps of that initiative in creating the CANCAB, the EU expert who collaborates with CARICOM and CARIFORUM said for too many years, Caribbean exporters had to outsource conformity assessment services from outside the region, which caused problems and affected trade negatively.
“The importance of respecting standards is obviously fundamental for the capacity of access to markets, including obviously the EU market. So in this context the establishment of CANCAB is fundamental and an essential step for a resilient, more prosperous and more competitive Caribbean,” he said, adding that it was also good that one Conformity Assessment Body in the region had already been accredited.
Speaking on behalf of CROSQ, Project Coordinator for the 10th EDF-TBT Programme, Ms. Karlene Russell, highlighted the successes of the programme thus far, including more testing, inspection and certification bodies responding to the need for accrediting their services to international standards.
“The capacity development of six conformity assessment bodies is progressing well and we anticipate that we will meet our target of accreditation of at least four of these bodies by the end of the 10th EDF-TBT Programme (next March). . .
“It is indeed our pleasure to collaborate with IICA in staging this second CANCAB meeting. The work being done by IICA in their 10th EDF SPS Project is complementary to the work of CROSQ and as such in May 2014 IICA, the Caribbean Export Development Agency and CROSQ signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on matters relating to food safety. This joint meeting is therefore a manifestation of that commitment. Through our joint efforts, we believe that we will be successful in fostering a regional quality culture and to also contribute to improving Caribbean competitiveness built on a firm foundation of quality,” said Ms. Russell.
It was a cooperative agreement that Representative of IICA’s Barbados Delegation, Mrs. Ena Harvey underscored.
She added: “An effective and efficient regime for agricultural and fisheries health and food safety is dependent on having informed technical expertise and supported by strong infrastructural capability.”
“In order to meet the requirements of international trade, critical competences must exist in the areas of surveillance, diagnostics, risk analysis, emergency response capability, quarantine and all aspects for food safety including GAP, HACCP, Traceability, Risk. Having access to laboratories that are able to conduct the required tests and diagnoses is therefore very important, and the formation of this sub-committee will play a significant role in rationalising the laboratory services that exist across the Region thereby making these services more available and affordable to stakeholders,” said the IICA Representative.
Over the two-day meeting of testing, inspection and certification bodies, the key issues discussed included: the validation and implementation of the CANCAB Strategic Plan; the framework for pilot testing a Regional Certification Scheme for a product; and the establishment of a Testing Subcommittee with emphasis on Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) laboratories.
About the CROSQ 10th EDF-TBT Programme
The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) component of the 10th European Development Fund - Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (EDF-CRIP), "Support to the Caribbean Forum of the ACP States in the implementation of the commitments undertaken under the Economic Partnership Agreement", is funded through a Financial Agreement between the European Union and CARIFORUM.
The overall objective of the 10th EDF Programme is to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy, to support regional cooperation and the development efforts of the Caribbean, in an effort to meet the requirements under the current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and CARIFORUM. The EPA-TBT component is expected to facilitate intra- and inter-regional trade as well as international competitiveness and sustainable production of goods and services within the CARIFORUM states for the enhancement of social and economic development.
It is implemented by CROSQ and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
About the IICA 10th EDF-SPS Project
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Project is one component of the 10th EDF SPS Programme titled: "Support to the Caribbean Forum of ACP States in the implementation of the Commitments Undertaken under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)".
The overall objective of the 10th EDF Programme is to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy and the overall objective of the SPS programme is to facilitate CARIFORUM States to gain and improve market access by complying with Europe's Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and to help CARIFORUM states to better develop their own regionally harmonized SPS measures. The outcomes of the SPS Project are intended to increase production and trade in agriculture and fisheries which meet international standards while protecting plant, animal and human health and the environment.
It is implemented by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.
*Both projects and their Implementation Agencies and partners closely collaborate so as to ensure synergy and avoid duplication.
The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), being the leader in developing an efficient National Quality Infrastructure, believes it is their job to train and develop its stakeholders and to provide world-class training at an internationally-recognized standard. They also believe it is their duty to recognize potential in different players in the industry, leverage their existing talents, and foster them to produce output at their optimum.
To this end, the BSJ has partnered with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Monday, September 28, 2015, towards the achievement of the accreditation of the BSJ’s Personal Certification and Training Programme for the Jamaican Manufacturing and Service Industries to ISO/IEC 17024 and ASTM E2659-15, through its Industrial Training Unit.
The funding of this project will be done by both organizations at a total cost of $13 million Jamaica Dollars. The BSJ has committed to funding the benchmarking and implementation phase, as well as expanding the types and number of courses that are currently offered. These two accomplishments will be equivalent to milestones one (1) and two (2) of the project and will be done at a cost of $7 Million Jamaican Dollars. Also, the BSJ will begin developing webinars and an E-training platform to deliver the training courses. This will account for 25% of the total training programmes the BSJ now offers.
The DBJ, on the other hand, has committed to funding, at a cost of $6 million Jamaican Dollars, the implementation of the IT platform and the implementation of ISO 17024 and ASTM E2659-15 Management System. These will be the final two milestones of the project.
Speaking at the function, at the offices of the DBJ, the BSJ’s Executive Director, Ms. Yvonne Hall noted that the project fits perfectly with the BSJ’s strategies as it seeks to strengthen the National Quality Infrastructure, as well as foster business development in two of Jamaica’s critical industries.
“This grant will assist in providing world-class training at an international standard with international recognition,” she said, adding that her team is committed to finishing the project’s objectives in the given time, at the operational level and by the Standards Council.
The DBJ’s Managing Director, Mr. Milverton Reynolds noted that among the over 700 organizations that will benefit from the BSJ’s programme are small and medium-sized enterprises.
“SMEs are specifically targeted by the DBJ for assistance in accessing 1 hour loans and other forms of financing and business development – to make them more structured, more efficient and more likely to survive,” he said.
Mr. Reynolds praised the BSJ for the development role of the programmes and pointed out that among the positive impacts they will have is the improvement of Jamaica’s standing among its regional and international counterparts.
Also present at the event was Prof. Winston Davidson, Chairman of the Standards Council - BSJ.
(A news release from the BSJ)