The private sector in the Dominican Republic is excited about opportunities to harmonise standards in that country, with those of CARICOM.
A recent mission by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) to the Dominican Republic which involved discussions with INDOCAL, the Dominican Republic Standards Organisation and the private sector, highlighted various opportunities for harmonisation of trade standards, which is the process by which agreed product and service quality-related specifications are aligned across nations.
Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael told the large gathering during the three days of consultations and discussion that the harmonisation activity was based on the Free Trade Agreement between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic which was signed in 1998; and of which the implementing protocol was signed in 2001.
“The fundamental objective of the Agreement,” she noted, “was to strengthen commercial and economic relations between the Parties through a number of initiatives, including - the establishment of a Free Trade Area between the Parties consistent with the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (the WTO), and, the promotion and expansion of the sale of goods originating in the territories of the Parties, elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade, and the establishment of a system of Rules of Origin, Customs Co-operation and the Harmonization of Technical, Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary procedures.”
“As the CARICOM organization with the responsibility for assisting with the dismantling of Technical Barriers to Trade through strengthening of regional quality infrastructure institutions, CROSQ has been developing and implementing strategies to support the objectives of the Agreement stated previously. One such initiative is within the 10th EDF (European Development Fund) programme ‘Support of the Forum of Caribbean States in the implementation of the commitments undertaken under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)’.”
“An outcome of this programme is the harmonization of standards between the Caribbean Community, represented by CROSQ and the Dominican Republic, represented by INDOCAL. Five standards have been chosen . . .,” the chair said, commending the parties involved for their commitment to the process thus far.
She further underscored the importance of the role the private sector would play in the process, noting, “My presence here today, as the Chairperson of CROSQ, is to demonstrate CROSQ’s commitment to, and support for, this activity. INDOCAL has also demonstrated its commitment by organizing and hosting this dialogue with you the stakeholders, who will be the principal beneficiaries of the outcomes. Your support is therefore critical to the realization of these objectives, and the many benefits to be derived.”
President of INDOCAL, Mr. Manuel Guerrero likewise stated the importance of the initiative with the Dominican Republic.
“The major result of this important activity [is to] achieve the greatest amount of standards harmonisation to the greatest possible extent; [that] standardising institutions participate fully and adequately, within the limits of its resources, in the preparation by international institutions with relevant standardisation activities . . .
“Regional institutions involved [must] also make every effort to achieve a national consensus on the standards they develop. Likewise, the regional standardising institution should make every effort to avoid duplication or rework of international institutions with relevant standardisation activities,” said the president.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer – Standards, Mr. Fulgence St. Prix hailed the two days of discussions extremely successful and thanked the European Union, noting that even after the official stakeholders’ consultation had ended, members of the private sector kept enquiring about other specific standards they would like to see harmonised.
Among the standards discussed for harmonisation are: Mangoes; Bananas; Labelling of Goods - General Principles; Labelling of Goods – Pre-packaged Goods; Specification for Toilet Tissue; Specification for Cement and Specification for Rum.
Twenty-one (21) persons in the region are now qualified to administer the CALIDENA methodology on value chains.
This is through a CALIDENA “Train the Trainer” workshop held at the Barcelo Hotel in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic in December. The objective was to train local facilitators to administer the methodology to develop action plans which would address issues specific to the value chains in seven countries. Those countries and chains were:
1. Antigua and Barbuda – honey/wax
2. Belize – shrimp
3. Dominican Republic – honey
4. St Kitts Nevis – breadfruit/breadnut
5. St Lucia – seamoss
6. Suriname – yard long beans
7. Trinidad and Tobago – cocoa.
With this training, the workshop participants, who included value chain representatives, national standards bureaus and consultants, are now qualified to aid with the improvement of the quality of goods in the respective value chains, as well as making those value chains more competitive.
The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all these steps from creation to market, to human resources, research and development, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product. CALIDENA is a component of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)-implemented, and the National Metrology Institute of Germany, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)–funded, Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean Project, more commonly known as the RQI4.
The training began with opening remarks by Director of Pro CALIDAD, the host organisation, Ms. Claribel Lopez, who welcomed participants to the Dominican Republic and explained to them the functions of her organisation. Project Coordinator with CROSQ, Ms. Janice Hilaire, highlighted the role of CROSQ in trade competitiveness through improvements in quality infrastructure, its relationship with PTB and the role of the RQI 4 Project and how interactions with participants will progress over the three stages (feasibility, diagnostic and follow-up) of administering of the methodology.
The training involved a set of activities structured to give insight into quality infrastructure, value chain analysis and how CALIDENA incorporates the two to achieve its objectives. The trainer, Dr. Ulrich Harmes- Liedkte, also explained the importance of card facilitation to the effectiveness of delivery, and provided detailed insight into the CALIDENA methodology.
An important component of the training was a field trip to an apiary and honey processing plant so participants could observe the practices as related to quality infrastructure of these institutions. The visit allowed participants to pull together the learning of the previous days and critically assess what exists in terms of quality infrastructure and the existence of gaps. Emphasis was placed on the preparation of action plans and how participants can go about prioritising activities for inclusion in the plan. Participants began the planning of their road map for administering the methodology for the selected value chains in their countries.