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.
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.
Consumers need to be knowledgeable about the appliances they are purchasing, and for this among other reasons, the Barbados government underscored the importance of a new energy project launched recently.
Speaking at the CARICOM Member States’ launch of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, more commonly called R3E, Minister of Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce told the audience at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Bay Street, St. Michael that the project was needed “quite urgently” in the region.
“Why do we need it? We need it to ensure that consumers are knowledgeable and interested in purchasing efficient appliance; that retailers see the benefits of selling such appliances and that consumers and business places eventually recognise savings in their energy bills,” Senator Boyce stated.
He added: “In short, this project is important in order to maintain customer confidence in the industry ... and the installation of energy efficient and renewable energy devices thereby facilitating us to achieve the benefit of the reduction in fossil fuel usage and foreign exchange that we now spend to import those fossil fuels.”
He highlighted that the project would use the development of standards and testing services for adherence to standards to ensure the importation of energy efficient appliances, thereby reducing use of foreign exchange by reducing energy consumption and changing the source of generation of energy use in the region.
The R3E Project, said Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Jose Trejo, was envisaged to contribute to the improvement of lives of the average consumer in CARICOM Member States over the long term, by reducing energy bills in businesses, and assisting in making building more energy efficient through improvement in quality services.
How this project differs from others, Mr. Trejo, who is also Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards noted, was in its application of quality services the energy sector.
“The Project is timely given the regional and international focus which is placed on critical energy issues; and its negative effect on climate change and the impact on the region,” he said.
The aim of the project is to develop minimum energy efficient standards as well as a labelling scheme for refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting; to develop standards for solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels; to establish a mechanism to support standards in the testing of the appliances and the calibration of testing equipment and the temperature of the appliances; as well as an information and awareness campaign to bring about a shift in consciousness of consumers related to choice of appliances and behavioural change.
The Project is funded by the German Government, through the German National Metrology Institute, and implemented by CROSQ and the Dominican Institute for Quality in the Dominican Republic.
It is also expected to complement the work CROSQ in undertaking in relation to the development of Regional Energy Efficient Building Codes.
Regional energy expert and head of the CARICOM Energy Unit, Dr. Devon Gardner told the audience of dignitaries, heads of regional and international organisations, as well as the Directorate of CROSQ that the CARICOM Secretariat had placed matters of energy “very high on its agenda”.
He stated that in 2015 energy efficiency was placed as a priority within CARICOM, and in January this year, the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for Energy, approved the pursuance of a strategy for energy in the region, a crucial part of that being sustainability.
“A critical part of that strategy is that we need to improve the efficiency within which energy is used in buildings; and so a part of that refers to the standards and regulations related to building energy use,” he said, noting that this partnership with CROSQ was hoped to bring about positive results in these areas for the region.
Dr. Alexis Valqui, Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean with PTB, stated that despite this being the fifth Regional Quality Infrastructure project Germany had undertaken directly with CROSQ, and partnering with INDOCAL, and it would be a learning experience for all concerned.
“Energy already is or will be visible in the future as one of the key issues and those countries or regions that solve the energy challenges will be also competitive in the future.”
R3E, which focuses on Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) in the Caribbean from a quality standpoint, is primarily based on the premise that the introduction of standards, testing and other quality-related services into the RE and EE subsectors, could result in significant changes to the way energy efficiency is viewed and the focus paid by policy makers, retailers, general public and other vital stakeholders in these areas.
Studies have found that “the use of energy-efficient devices, and the application of technologies for using renewable energies in the Caribbean, are impeded by the lack of important QI tools and services such as standards, testing, inspection, certification and labelling. Consumer protection is insufficient, as is the information on these instruments.”
It is a core issue the R3E Project seeks to address. It is funded to the tune of 1 million Euros by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
This week at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, ASTM International President Mr. James Thomas announced the signing of the organization’s 100th Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU program supports use of ASTM International standards while also encouraging global participation in the ASTM standards development process.
“This program has been crucial in supporting the global standards community, starting with our first signatory, Colombia, to Gulf nations including the UAE, to Montserrat, our 100th,” said Mr. Thomas. “These signings reflect ASTM’s broad and deep commitment to World Trade Organization principles such as openness, transparency, and the development dimension.”
“We are thrilled that Montserrat is joining this well-known program,” said Mr. Deryck Omar, CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) in the Caribbean. “It’s clear that ASTM International standards are recognized worldwide for their high technical quality and market relevance,” said Mr. Omar, an ASTM board member.
During his presentation, Mr. Thomas unveiled ASTM’s new Global Cooperation webpage featuring all 100 countries and regions, including Monserrat as well as Myanmar, which became the 99th MoU partner last week.
MoU partners receive these benefits:
• free participation in ASTM technical committees;
• access to a robust collection of ASTM standards for the national standards body;
• education about ASTM International’s standards development process and technical content;
• minimized duplication of effort in standards development at the national level; and,
• communication, awareness, access to special programs, and more.
These benefits are particularly helpful in addressing challenges such as overcoming barriers to trade.
Mr. Thomas made the announcement during “outreach day” of the week-long activities of the ASTM International Board of Directors in the United Arab Emirates. His speaking engagement – alongside board chairman Dr. Ralph Paroli of the National Research Council of Canada – was supported by the Abu Dhabi Chamber, the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the U.S. Embassy as part of its Discover America Speakers Series.
ASTM International’s overall global engagement has grown alongside the MoU program. Over the past 10 years, membership in ASTM International committees has increased 42% outside the U.S. At the same time, ASTM has opened several additional offices throughout the world.
In 2016, the organization hosted over 100 delegates from nine countries. Over the past decade, ASTM International has also hosted 32 standard experts from 28 nations through its exchange program. Over the next 12 months, the organization plans to host experts from MoU signatories including Bhutan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.
Also this month, ASTM International’s Global Cooperation Department, which manages the MoU program, received the International Code Council (ICC) Global Award for their dedicated effort in “promoting and providing access to technical standards supporting the building codes around the world, thus creating an opportunity to expand the ICC’s mission to promote global building safety.”
*This is a release from ASTM International
With a primary focus on increasing exports out of The Bahamas, the Government there has just launched the newest standards organisation in the region – The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ).
As the country rang in its 43rd anniversary of Independence, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Perry Christie, noted they indeed had a lot to celebrate, including the establishment of the bureau.
“As a Government, we hold that the formulation and maintenance of standards and quality by BBSQ is essential, not optional; it is a necessary and well-considered strategy. It is a primary plank in my government’s plan to expand national development through trade, primarily through increased exports of Bahamian goods and services and access into new markets. The Bureau is also important in terms of local consumer protection,” the Prime Minister noted in recognition of the achievement.
He further extolled: “The ultimate objective is to enhance the quality of life for the Bahamian people for the long term.”
His sentiments were echoed by the Minister of Financial Services and Local Government, Mrs. Hope Strachan, whose portfolio has primary responsibility for the bureau. She too noted the need for standards and a focus on quality in the Bahamian society.
“We are fully aware that transforming the culture in both the manufacturing and services sectors to comply with new internationally accepted national standards could possibly result in apprehension and skepticism from the business community and even the general public. I wish to advise, however, that these changes, once implemented will improve public confidence and create new opportunities for Bahamian and international investors and put our relationship with our trading partners on an even playing field,” she noted.
The Minister further invited stakeholders to join with Government as it made this vital step to take advantage of the opportunities to expand the Bahamian economy and global trade.
Both the Prime Minister and Minister, lauded the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and other agencies for the role in helping the BBSQ’s establishment, including training, financial and technical assistance.
Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo hailed the launch as a momentous occasion for the Bahamas as well as the region as a whole.
“The institutionalization of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality is a declaration that the Government of the Bahamas recognises the need to install the requisite infrastructure to support and promote a culture for quality; but more so, it is a reflection of the government’s commitment to ensure, above all, the health and safety of its peoples and its environment. By extension, it underpins the socioeconomic importance that the Bahamas places on the development of trade in goods and services as it now openly seeks to embed quality infrastructure in its national development dynamics. This not only enhances the national effort, but also serves to draw us closer in our unrelenting regional endeavour at harmonizing our economies across a single space…
“Strategically, our mandate within CROSQ is to facilitate trade and competitiveness of CARICOM products and services for sustainable development through the implementation of a regional quality infrastructure. This we intend to achieve by offering support to the national bureaux of standards in the development of their own national quality infrastructures. With this in mind, over the past seven years, CROSQ has been working closely with the Bahamas having undertaken various onsite and offsite interventions. These interventions have led to the provision of equipment, training attachments, workshops and seminars, and meetings,” said the Chairman, adding that it was also significant that increasingly women were stepping into the roles of leadership in the development of the region’s quality infrastructure.
Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford added her voice of thanks to the Government of The Bahamas, as well as the various agencies and programmes that allowed them to reach this point.
“The Bahamas has long been known as a stable economy within the Caribbean; but to advance further towards globalization, we must turn our attention to the building blocks of a sustainable and viable quality infrastructure. This means developing national standards based on international requirements, developing a metrology regime to ensure free and fair trade of goods and services, and building conformity assessment services which include testing, market surveillance, certification and accreditation of our laboratories and other systems of operations.
“We cannot afford to be left behind in terms of global markets access, industry competitiveness, innovation, further development and growth of this country's main economic sectors of tourism and financial services; and in the areas of agriculture, public and environmental healthcare, and the list goes on and on. We believe our strategic plan is properly aligned to the national development plan and Vision 2040 of the Government,” said Dr. Bufford.
Energy security and the efficiency of use of energy in the buildings of CARICOM is the focus of a three-day workshop in Grenada from July 13-15, 2016.
The regional workshop on Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations brought together over 40 experts from the 15 Member States of CARICOM to examine two key objectives: the establishment of benchmarks for the energy performance of buildings in the form of agreed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs), and the provision of a firm basis for the development of a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).
CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar remarked that the organisation’s directive to develop energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings was one handed down by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Such a directive was embraced by CROSQ which committed to the development of the REEBC.
“We also recognise the importance of development of standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy as it enables us as a region to meet our obligations under international agreements, meeting millennium goals and reducing carbon foot print; as well as relieving pressure on our governments as it relates economic transformation, providing for energy independence and security.
“To guarantee success of fulfilling the directive it is both necessary and important for CROSQ to partner and explore synergies with other organisations with similar goals,” said the CEO at the opening ceremony of the workshop.
CROSQ is partnering in this initiative with agencies and projects, including the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA), the CARICOM Energy Unit, and the Caribbean Development Bank, alongside hosts of the workshop, the Grenada Bureau of Standards.