There is a new chairperson at the helm of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford, who is also Director of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), was selected to office during the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held in St. Kitts and Nevis in October. She takes over the reins from outgoing chairman, Mr. Jose Trejo, Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards.

In her incoming remarks, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford underscored her satisfaction with the work the CROSQ network of standards, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment bodies has been engaged in over the years and her willingness to work through the CROSQ Secretariat to continue the work.

“I would really like to thank the CROSQ Council for the faith it has placed in me to take on this mantle of leadership. I know this is a great responsibility to lead the network of bureaux and I promise to strive to do what I can to ensure that the success we have enjoyed under past leaders continues. I would like to also thank our past directors who have led this body of agencies for the work they have done and the path they have blazed for me to continue,” said the incoming chairperson.

The new chair, took over from Belize Bureau of Standards Director, Mr. Jose Trejo, and will serve alongside Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick, Director of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, who is Vice Chair.

Dr. Fergusson-Bufford shared her vision for what she would like to achieve during her tenure in the post:

“I believe my role as chairperson is to further progress the mandate of CROSQ and to expand its profile internationally; both in presence and voice. In fulfilling this vision and mission, as well as to ensure the strategic goals are being carried out effectively and efficiently and that regional initiatives are guided by individual national priorities, I will continue the governance, advocacy, and outreach effort to all, so as to support the sustainable production and trade of goods and services in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and beyond.”

Dr. Ferguson-Bufford noted that during the tenure of the last two chairpersons, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael of the Barbados National Standards Institute and Mr. Jose Trejo, there was considerable work done to produce a Regional Quality Policy, and this was one of the initiatives she would like to see implemented during her term in office.

“I am in full agreement with the objectives as set out in our Regional Quality Policy and share the sentiments of our past directors that with this policy in place we can, as a region, really begin examining how we make quality a part of all our everyday life in nation building. If we want to see our competitiveness increase and level of innovation improved in the region, we have to be serious about making sure quality improvement systems are an integral part of our productive environment, and so I look forward to continuing that drive at the regional level to ensuring this thinking gets pride of place in action at the national level,” she said.

But her mandate, she noted, would also include ensuring that the Bahamas bureau continued its current path of development as well.

“At the bureau, we have a team of qualified, well trained Bahamians, who have demonstrated the competence, ability, dedication and commitment to ensure that every function of the Bureau is developed to achieve its objectives and by extension the overall value of the BBSQ as outlined in our Strategic Plan.

“In the past three to four years we have made significant strides at development, thanks to the efforts of the CROSQ fraternity of Member States and other external financing and technical assistance agencies. I know we will continue our trajectory of growth that will enable us not only to help our own citizens, but the rest of CARICOM as well by contributing to the development of our Regional Quality Infrastructure.”

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10 October 2017

CROSQ on Good Path

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.)

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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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The hard work of developing Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean is just starting to pay off.

That’s the view of quality expert, Mr. Pat Paladino, as he addressed a meeting of National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFP) officials from eight CARICOM countries in Barbados this week. The workshop is an initiative under the 10th EDF-TBT Programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), the German Metrology Institute (PTB) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL). It ends on Friday, February 17.

Mr. Paladino is one of the trainers at the workshop, which is led by Mrs. Claudette Brown – Accreditation consultant and trainer.

Mr. Paladino noted that the global market was moving ahead in areas requiring product tested by labs accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to international accreditation agreements. Failure to meet the international requirements could result in a close out for products of the Caribbean, he noted.

“Developed markets set the rules and they’ve embraced the international accreditation system. If the Caribbean can’t meet these rules, our businesses and exporters are not going to be able to do business in these markets. Also, if the region is unable to provide recognized accreditation and conformity assessment services, then businesses and manufacturers will have to look outside the region to be able to have their products tested.

“Typically, businesses would have to go to the US, Canada or Europe and the cost of testing in these countries is probably 10 or 20 times the cost of doing it here, if we had the capabilities. That’s pretty significant for these manufacturers,” he remarked.

The expert, who is a former President of the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation, the internationally recognised association of accreditation bodies in the Americas and other organisations interested in conformity assessment, said this was why the work of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the National Standards Bodies (NSBs) of the region was so important to mitigating some of the international risks.

“All the hard work is finally starting to pay off. There was a slow start getting people on board, knowledgeable and trained, but today we have an accreditation body that is already recognised internationally. We are also seeing a number of labs, both in the medical and testing area, come forward and attain accreditation. So, we are taking small steps, but the question is, are we moving fast enough,” he said.

Governments, he pointed out, must be made to understand why these processes are so important to national and regional development. Standards development organisation must adopt or adapt international standards as national standards to support businesses and export.

Mrs Brown’s indicated that participants would be reviewing the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 standard.  She pointed out that this standard was applicable to all laboratories and can be used by the NAFPs to assist these labs in the development of their management systems for quality, administrative and technical operations.  She pointed out that the workshop would also be covering other supporting information, including the benefits of accreditation, the accreditation process and assessor attributes.   The participants were encouraged to participate fully in the activities of the week in order to maximize the benefits.

CROSQ’s Technical Officer – Accreditation, Mr. Stephen Farquharson explained that the role of the NAFP was to assist Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) with their quest for international accreditation to meet the needs of businesses. He told the officials from Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis and Suriname that the week-long training would give them the basics needed to provide the necessary assistance to CABs, and especially laboratories.

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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.

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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. 

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Businesses in Guyana will now have the opportunity to vie to be the dubbed the best in quality products and services in the country.

That’s because the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) recently launched a National Quality Awards Programme, with the sole aim of recognising businesses that have “demonstrated commitment towards Quality by implementing recognised standards and best practices”. This will be based on a comprehensive assessment using pre-established criteria under the Quality Awards Scheme.

With this launch, the bureau, which is the main agency for the development of quality infrastructure in the country, is hoping to promote a quality of culture in Guyana; enhance business efficiency and effectiveness through usage of recognised quality services; strengthen stakeholder engagement with the bureau; create public awareness on the importance of quality in goods and services and increasing the production of such quality while increasing regional and international competitiveness among businesses.

Executive Director of the Bureau, Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick told the audience, including the business sector, “At the GNBS, and also through CROSQ (CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality), it is an initiative to recognise businesses and also to encourage our local businesses to embrace standards and quality.”

She added: “Moreso, when we look at ensuring that our businesses are competitive, having Quality Awards will allow those businesses to look at their operation in terms of standardisation and how they can become competitive. Most times our businesses may leave issues of standardisation as a last resort or if it is a demand for an export market . . . but in addition to meeting those certification requirements, we would like our businesses to have it as part of their philosophy of operation.”

CROSQ CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar commented on the timing of the launch of this Awards scheme, which was an initiative under the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme.

“It is perhaps also fortuitous that this launch comes at a time when were are not just building a regional quality infrastructure, but looking to put structures and policy in place to ensure its sustainability. As such, over the past years, CROSQ and our partners in the 10th EDF-TBT Programme have embarked on a journey to creating a Regional Quality Policy that gives context to today’s devleopments.

“This policy that I speak of, has at its heart, a focus on creating the kind of culture in the region that incorporates thoughts of quality into everything we do. It is intended to promote higher levels of productivity, innovation, export competitiveness and consumer health and environmental protection through improved quality of products and services and the development of an internationally recognised, demand-oriented, quality infrastructure – all within the context of various trade agreements,” said Mr. Omar.

Head of the Guyana Quality Awards Team, Mr. Lloyd David explained that the QA Programme for the country would look at the manufacturing and services sectors and was aimed at enhancing quality and competitiveness of local goods and services; allowing businesses to compete on quality; encouraging businesses to adopt principles of continuous improvement; heightening consumer confidence in products and services produced locally, and creating a platform for businesses to evaluate and improve businesses on quality platforms.

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If the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) is to press ahead to aid the development of quality goods and services across the region that trade and compete internationally, regional governments and businesses need to play their part.

That was the view of accreditation expert, Mr. Pat Paladino, as he addressed a symposium to mark World Accreditation Day in Guyana this week.

Mr. Paladino, addressing an audience that included Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, regional leaders in quality infrastructure development, as well as regulators and private sector business leaders, acknowledged the role that the two major accreditations in Guyana; one in Jamaica and one in Grenada utilising CROSQ’s Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, had played in pushing quality to the forefront of discussion. 

He also highlighted the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) another programme created by CROSQ to assist the development of the region’s conformity assessment bodies, namely the inspection, testing and certification entities within both the private and public sector. 

Additionally, said the international accreditation expert, the National Standards Bodies of Belize, Suriname and Jamaica, had all been certified to the ISO 9001 quality management system, with the assistance of CROSQ, but all this work was only the start of what was needed in the region.

“The CARICOM and CARIFORUM Regions have much more to do to be able to ensure that all quality and quality-related services are available within the regions. There are many more standards to adopt or adapt and many more conformity assessment bodies to accredit. There is a need for the development of capabilities within the NABs for product, services and personnel certification bodies and inspection bodies. 

“It is also necessary to obtain international recognition of the National Accreditation Bodies for certification and inspection bodies. Each one is a formidable task, but I have confidence that the organizations are up for the task,” said the accreditation consultant.

“All this work and the achievements will go to waste if there is no uptake by government or business. That is the policies and programmes developed must be embraced and put to use. Regional standards that are harmonized internationally must be adopted at the national level. National regulations must start to reference the use of these standards and address qualification of organizations to the international standards.

“The time is now to show such commitments. Without your commitment it will become extremely difficult for Caribbean organizations to be competitive in international and regional markets,” he added, congratulating the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) on the tremendous work it had done in the country thus far.

Head of Conformity Assessment at the Bureau, Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick noted the high demand in the country for quality management services and accreditation services, since the recent accreditations of the Guyana Rice Development Board’s Central Laboratory and the Eureka Medical Laboratories Inc. in Georgetown, with the assistance of the bureau, CROSQ and funding partners.

Likewise, Technical Officer for Accreditation with CROSQ, Mr. Stephen Farquharson, made a call for labs wanting to move to accreditation status to contact the local focal point at the GNBS to access the services CROSQ could provide to begin the process.

He noted that CCA Scheme and the CANCAB mechanism were both created under the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, and additional funding partners like the Caribbean Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, as well as the Centres for Disease Control under various programmes, had enabled the assistance to be provided to the labs and bureaux that had received certification or accreditation. This assistance, he noted, was available to others seeking it. 

Furthermore, like Mr. Paladino, he underscored the importance of the focus on quality to breaking barriers and opening new markets for products and services for the countries of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, and protecting the general welfare, health and safety of consumers and the environment. 

The CROSQ officer noted that the organisation was in the process of cooperating and collaborating on a common regional quality policy and strategy of development that was needed in the region and for which close public and private sector linkages with the bureaux of standards would be needed.

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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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