The newest bureau in the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) network, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), recently held a week of intensive activities aimed at updating legislation, devising a strategic plan and increasing the capacity within the institution.
Drawing on its own national resources, as well as those under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) programme, the BBSQ brought together a number of consultants from September 28 to October 2, 2015, to aid in necessary institutional development.
According to the Bahamas Information Service, the foreign consultants, Dr. Joseph Khan and Mr. David Tomlinson, were welcomed by Minister of Financial Service, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan; Permanent Secretary, Mr. David Davis; Ministry Consultant Mr. Hillary Deveaux; Project Manager, Ms. Sandiria Hall and Bureau Director, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford. Local legal consultant, Ms. Tira Greene, who is a specialist in legal reform and drafting in developing countries, was also among the team of experts on the mission.
Minister Strachan, the BIS noted, expressed her gratitude to the team for the assistance they provided to the BBSQ, and while noting the demanding task ahead, had high praises for the work already done by the BBSQ.
The Minister also noted that the development of the BBSQ and the two projects – the redrafting of legislation to comply with the World Trade Organisation TBT Agreement, and the finalisation of a three-year strategic plan – were strategically aligned to the Government’s mandate. This mandate speaks to the creation of an enabling infrastructure that supports the economic development and growth of The Bahamas. Minister Strachan recognised that the initiatives would meet international standards, while reducing technical barriers to trade.
Management consultant, Dr. Khan, was charged with the development of the BBSQ’s Strategic Plan and spent the early part of the week with stakeholders delineating the bureau’s strategic plan. Mr. Tomlinson, Technical Officer responsible for Metrology in the region with CROSQ provided additional technical assistance as he has been doing with the bureau due to his in-depth knowledge of the quality needs of the country, as well as his expertise in metrology, which is the science of measurement. Both consultants undertook these initiatives with funding through the 10th EDF TBT programme.
Ms. Greene has been working with the BBSQ towards finalising the proposed changes to the Standards Act, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Weights and Measures Act to ensure international compliance with the WTO TBT Agreement.
The week started with a stakeholder engagement; legislative drafting on Tuesday; Strategic Plan development on Wednesday; a Metrology workshop with BBSQ staff on Thursday, and even with approaching bad weather, concluded with focus on technical assistance on Friday.
Standards officers from across the region are gathering in Montserrat this week, from 21-24 September, 2015, to participate in three meetings hoping to move the standards process forward and ease some of the hurdles islands have been experiencing in development procedures.
Technical Officer, Standards, with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Fulgence St. Prix explained that the meetings in Montserrat were being held with the assistance of the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade programme, and would be attended by officers from 13 of the 15 CARICOM Member States, as well as the Dominican Republic. The only countries absent are Belize and The Bahamas.
Monday, September 21, saw a large opening ceremony involving officials of the Government of Montserrat, and was followed by a day-long brainstorming session which looked at the processes involved in regional standards development, the challenges experienced and possible solutions.
St. Prix noted that this brainstorming session, which was addressed by CROSQ CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, was intended to inform a heads of standards divisions meeting set for early next year. That meeting in early 2016 is expected to deal with the preparation, adoption and implementation of regional standards. The brainstorming session will run until midday Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon will also mark the beginning of the Technical Implementation Group – Standards (TIG-S) meeting to look at the 2016-2017 Annual Operation Plan for the Standards component of the 10th EDF TBT project, being implemented in the region by CROSQ and INDOCAL, the Dominican Republic’s standards body, with funding and additional technical assistance administered through project managers, the German Metrology Institute (PTB). That meeting will conclude on Wednesday afternoon, when the Technical Management Committee (TMC) that oversees regional standards development will then begin its 27th Face-to-Face Meeting.
The TMC meets biannually to provide updates on standards and devise the work plan for regional standards. This meeting ends Thursday, September 24.
After a successful initial 2-year period the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) signed a renewal of their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of the BSJ’s Business Partnership Programme on Tuesday August 25, in the BSJ’s Board Room.
The programme is designed to provide technical assistance to Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) which will enable them to implement quality systems in their organizations, that ultimately will impact national economic development.
Forty benefit from Train the Trainer programme
Over the last two years, under the Business Partnership Programme, approximately 40 persons from six entities were trained under a Train the Trainer programme. Benefiting from training in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), packaging and labelling, Metry Seaga, president of the JMA noted that the training was strategic and especially beneficial to their technical staff.With the knowledge gained and skills which were developed by these persons, they continued the training, mentoring and coaching within their organizations thus creating a multiplier effect. The building of the technical competences of Train the Trainers who train resource persons is one of the key deliverables under the programme. Mr. Seaga said the MOU represented the continued mutual commitment to developing the capacity of the productive sector in standards and quality.
Twenty Percent Discount for companies
Yvonne Hall, Executive Director of the BSJ announced that under the MOU, MSMEs stand to also benefit from a twenty percent discount on services offered by the BSJ, however, this will be granted only on the basis of the entity’s involvement in standards related activities and the implementation of quality systems. Additionally, the signing of the MOU enhances the BSJ’s role as facilitator and not regulator, particularly after the separation of the regulatory activities, announced recently.
The main results expected from the programme, which is expected to continue until at least 2017, are the enhanced awareness of the value of standards by company personnel; the implementation of quality systems in the various participating entities and the improvement of current quality systems in the various organizations and member companies.
Farmers, buyers, sellers and other stakeholders in the production and export of yard long beans will come together in a major workshop from September 1 to 3, 2015, aimed at strengthening that agricultural sector and increasing exports.
The CALIDENA workshop is a collaboration of the Suriname Standards Bureau (SSB), the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the International Technical Co-operation Section of the German National Metrology Institute - Physikalisch- Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and will be held at Medisch Wetenschappelijk Instituu (MWI) in Paramaribo, Suriname.
The CALIDENA methodology is a demand-driven approach which assesses and diagnoses quality infrastructure issues at each level in a value chain, with the aim of increasing competitiveness. Value chains in the CALIDENA project must satisfy set criterion such as real opportunities for export, experience and advances in chaining, diverse quality services, participation of SMEs in the chain, conscious need to improve the chain and motivation of stakeholders to dedicate time and resources.
In the case of Suriname, the country identified yard long beans as the agricultural product with significant potential for export. Stakeholders in this sector completed a Feasibility stage to assess its eligibility to participate in the project, which led to this second – Diagnostic stage in the form of a workshop to identify, promote concrete actions and improve the quality services of the chain.
Director of the Suriname Standards Bureau, Mrs. Ingrid de Bel-Simson noted that this was a great opportunity for the bureau to hear from the stakeholders and also assess the services the organisation offers and what it needs to do to assist in making the sector more competitive, as well as alerting the public about the capabilities of the SSB.
At the end of the workshop will be an action plan to identify the steps necessary to make Suriname’s yard long beans more competitive on the regional and international markets.
The shrimp industry in Belize is this week more certain of the way forward to addressing some of its challenges and how the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) can help producers, processers and distributors improve quality and possibly increase exports.
This follows an intensive three-day CALIDENA Diagnostic workshop that was the result of collaboration on the shrimp industry between the BBS, its regional umbrella body – the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and funders, the International Technical Cooperation Department of the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
The CALIDENA methodology under the CROSQ-implemented and PTB-funded project – Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean (RQI 4), has been focussed on improving the quality infrastructure in agriculture-related value chains among the CROSQ Member States. 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 the steps from creation to market, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product.
Belize is one of four countries in the second round of the RQI4 project to be chosen for the strengthening of a value chain, and the country chose its shrimp industry.
The workshop ran from August 5 – 7, 2015, at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, and concluded with a trip to the Belize Agriculture Limited (BAL) shrimp processing plant in Placencia, in the south of Belize. Approximately 20 participants spent the first day of the workshop learning about quality infrastructure and the history of the shrimp industry, conducting analyses of the state of the industry. The second day examined the legislations and regulations central to the shrimp value chain’s operation in Belize, regionally and internationally, while the third day examined a real operation and a GAP analysis of the industry, with a committee being formed to spearhead actions to closing the gaps and correcting the deficiencies found.
By the end, the group had identified challenges pertaining to technical regulations and inspection; standards and certification; laboratory and accreditation services; and metrology and calibration services. Among the needs found in technical regulations and inspection were – inspection services; standards and certification recommended frequent monitoring by a certification body, training in quality systems; in laboratory and accreditation services – an accredited laboratory facility, communication with and among stakeholders, particularly the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the BBS, training of auditors, and they wanted services in temperature and the calibration of scales as well as accreditation of calibration services to help facilitation of trade in the metrology and calibration area.
These and other needs were outlined in the action plan that is devised at the end of such CALIDENA diagnostics, and in addition to identifying persons to sit on the implementation committee, they also determined why these were the challenges they found with QI services, how these challenges could be addressed and by whom, along with timelines.
The committee is now set to meet before the end of the month to begin plotting how it will implement some of the actions decided on during the Diagnostic workshop.
Director of the BBS, Mr. Jose Trejo expressed thanks for the intervention into the shrimp value chain and noted that the bureau was excited and looking forward to the implementation process of the actions decided.
President of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, Mr. Alvin Henderson said: "I think (the CALIDENA) has brought a lot of clarity to something that is increasingly urgent for us as a country. About two months ago I raised the issue with BAHA about the need for us to have an accredited lab and it is moreso urgent now."
The Government of the United Mexican States, through the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (PROFECO) and the Government of Belize, through the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Consumer Protection on Monday, July 20, 2015 during a visit of the Belize Foreign Ministry in Mexico.
The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is to establish and develop cooperation activities between both participants with respect to guiding policies, protection and defence of consumers with these activities following the relevant laws, rules and regulations in force in each respective country
With Mexico as one of Belize's most important trading partners, it is imperative that as Consumer Protection Agencies, the BBS and PROFECO establish a formal working relationship. This Memorandum of Understanding represents the first step in recognizing and addressing the challenges posed by possible cross-border fraudulent, deceptive commercial practices and in seeking to improve the effectiveness of the enforcement of each countries applicable Consumer Protection Laws. Through these efforts, both agencies have committed to advancing the protection and safety of goods and services used by consumers in each respective country.
For further information please contact us at:
3rd Floor Diamonds Building Belmopan, Belize, C.A. P.O. Box 430
Hotline: 0-800-2-TELL-US (0-800-283-5587)
The Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) is desirous of having a logo design that will serve as an effective corporate identity of the Agency.
CAHFSA is a CARICOM intergovernmental Agency mandated to perform a coordinating and organizing role for the establishment of an effective and efficient regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) regime.
The services offered by CAHFSA falls under 3 main areas: Food Safety, Plant Health, and Animal Health.
The CAHFSA Logo Competition is funded under the 10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Project Support to the Caribbean Forum of ACP States in the Implementation of Commitments Undertaken Under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).
The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)’s Central Laboratory has made history by becoming the first laboratory in Guyana to become accredited to the International Standards Organisation’s ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The ISO standard is used by laboratories in developing their management system for quality, administrative and technical operations. Laboratory customers, regulatory authorities and accreditation bodies may also use it in confirming or recognizing the competence of laboratories.
By earning this standard, the GRBD has achieved several significant milestones including becoming the first laboratory in the region to have:
- attained accreditation through the CARTFund, the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
- been assisted towards achieving accreditation by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) functioning as the National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP)
- become accredited outside of Jamaica utilising the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC)
- earned accreditation through the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme created by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a partner in the CARTFund Project, noted that the accreditation was a particularly gratifying step, and a very important achievement for the Project.
“A major constraint to trade and market access, even where tariffs have been eliminated, is the ability to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards and quality requirements”, said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division of the Caribbean Development Bank. “The Accreditation of the GRDB Central Laboratory means that the rice sector in Guyana now has access to accredited testing services. This is a significant milestone in the development of the value chain of the Rice subsector in Guyana”.
CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar shared the view that this was an excellent example of countries supporting each other using specialised expertise and resources.
“This accreditation demonstrates functional regional integration as together each achieves more. It is a positive development to see how the expertise of JANAAC was brought to bear in supporting Guyana in this process. The CCA Scheme has several advantages as conformity assessment bodies receive coaching, training and development assistance towards achieving accreditation. We find this approach to be economical and practical,” said Mr. Omar.
Permanent Secretary in Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis further described the achievement of the accreditation as auspicious, because GRDB is the country’s lead agency in agriculture.
“Prior to this certification, the Guyana Rice Development Board was tasked with sending samples for testing to the USA, which roughly took two weeks for results. Today, we no longer have to take this route. Being ISO/IEC certified is a useful tool which will add credibility by demonstrating that rice coming out of Guyana meets the expectations of our buyers”, he said, reading a prepared speech from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder.
The accreditation process began under the project in 2014 and was accelerated with receipt of a grant of US$522,401 from the CARTFund.
The objective of the CARTFund project is to strengthen the capabilities of testing laboratories in CARIFORUM Member States to provide reliable, competent, internationally recognised and affordable testing services to exporters. CROSQ and the CDB are the implementing partners for the Project.
As the newest standards bureau in the region, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is now well on the way to enhancing its offering of accreditation and measurement standardisation services with the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) recently.
Minister of Financial Services, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, under whose portfolio the BBSQ resides, signed the documents on April 30, 2015, to establish the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, and to recognise the Bureau of Standards Jamaica’s (BSJ) Mass Metrology Laboratory as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory (CaRL) for Mass Metrology.
Accreditation, which is a third-party attestation, refers to the demonstration of competence in certification, inspection and testing, by a conformity assessment body. The CCA Scheme brings together such bodies for the purpose of mutual cooperation and collaboration toward facilitating trade in the Caribbean region and internationally. CROSQ coordinates the support services for these facilities.
Metrology, on the other hand, is the science of measurement; and the CaRL Scheme is aimed at providing economical and sustainable traceability in specific quantities by National Metrology Institutes (NMI) within the region. A CaRL is a metrology laboratory within a NMI or Designated Institute in the CARICOM region, recognised by CROSQ as a regional reference lab for a specific measurement quantity or magnitude within a defined scope.
The signing of the two documents have begun the process of moving the national standards body, BBSQ in The Bahamas, from its early conceptual phase into being the premier institution in the country for quality infrastructure services.
With the CCA Scheme in place, the BBSQ will be better able to access economical and readily available accreditation services through the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS); be able to facilitate the development of regional quality infrastructure as well as facilitate regional and international trade; provide avenues for manufacturers to expand their markets, as well as give them local access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services, among other benefits.
Being a signatory to the CaRL MOU for Mass Metrology will mean that the BBSQ will have access to calibrations at reduced cost from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its national reference mass standards. This will translate into a reduced cost for maintaining the traceability of mass measurements in The Bahamas. Additionally, the BBSQ will be able to access technical assistance from the BSJ mass metrology experts, which will prove especially important as the BBSQ now develops its capability in this area.
Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford was particularly heartened by the signing of the CaRL MOU between the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the Government of The Bahamas. She noted that the role of the CaRL was to provide measurement traceability to the Caribbean region by serving as the ‘entry point’ of the highest measurement capability within the region characterised by having an international recognised quality management system, the smallest measurement uncertainty and highest technical capability in the region.
The completion of the CCA MOU will happen when the CROSQ Council meets in Barbados this week, from May 6 – 8, to set that scheme in motion and empower the Bahamian bureau as far as accreditation services are concerned.
“We have been working for quite some time to get the Bureau of Standards in The Bahamas up and running effectively and the signing of these MOUs demonstrate a commitment to making our country one of the regional leaders of quality infrastructure. We have been sensitizing Bahamians on the importance and benefits of standards, and also promoting and implementing quality services into everything that we do. Now, the Bureau has more power to begin to offer the services that our private and public sectors need to make them more competitive on regional and international markets.
“I would like to thank Minister Strachan for committing to the process all the way, as well as to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) for lending the technical assistance to get us to this point, and their continued commitment to ensure that we are fully operational. As the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as regional QI is concerned, we know a lot is expected and we will strive, harder than ever, to live up to those expectations,” said Dr. Ferguson-Bufford.
This move towards further development of the BBSQ has been made possible through funding by the European Union through the 10th European Development Fund Economic Partnership Agreement Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, and private USA lending companies like, Instant Same Day Loans 24, Amone, Country Wide and others, focusing on Technical Barriers to Trade.
The 2015 COPANT (Pan American Standards Commission) General Assembly was held on April 14 and 15 in Mexico City, successfully organized by the Dirección General de Normas, the COPANT member for Mexico.
The opening ceremony of the meeting included the distinguished presence of the Deputy Secretary for Competitiveness and Normativity of the Ministry of Economy, Mrs. Rocio Ruiz Chavez, who noted that Mexico is committed to participate more actively at regional and international level and is pleased to see that COPANT has evolved to be a strategic body that generates opportunities for cooperation and dialogue, better representing the voice of our region. During the opening ceremony had also the presence of the Deputy Secretary of Quality and Regulation of the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Francisco Mass Peña, who mentioned that among the measures to boost the quality and competitiveness of tourism standardization is considered as a strategic pillar in that Ministry. Mexico is becoming a major tourist destination, growing in tourist arrivals in 2014 by 20.5%. We were also honored with the presence of the President of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), Dr. Junji Nomura who stressed that this organization can support countries in the COPANT region to verify the safety of electrical appliances and encouraged to participate in IEC activities. For his part, the Vice President of Policy for ISO (International Organization for Standardization), Mr. John Walter, who is also the CEO of the Standards Body of Canada, a member of COPANT, acknowledged the leadership of Mexico in the region, which facilitated the venue to develop COPANT activities during the week building a solid foundation of friendship, trust and cooperation activities on the benefit of the region.
President of COPANT, Mr. Joe Bhati (left) and Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael share a light moment after the signing of the MOU between the two bodies.
The 2015 meeting was attended by 25 active members, 6 adherent members and 9 invited organizations, totalling 94 delegates at the meeting. The most important activity during this meeting, with a preparatory session the day before, was to define through four working groups, the strategic planning 2016-2020. The four working groups reaffirmed their leaders and analyzed and defined objectives and activities to achieve compliance with the four Strategic Priorities of COPANT which are:
- Building Capacities – Led by Mexico and Argentina;
- Increasing International Participation in Targeted Areas – Led by Brazil and the United States;
- Promoting Effective Conformity Assessment Services – Led by Chile and Colombia; and
- Strengthening Regional Collaboration and Cooperation – Led by Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago.
During the meeting is also noteworthy the signing of a cooperation agreement between COPANT and CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality, CROSQ.
During the week of COPANT a Workshop was conducted on Perspectives of Standardization and Conformity Assessment for Leaders of the NSBs, organized by the Mexican Accreditation Agency - EMA, and which also included speakers from Canada and the United States, who shared the structure and functioning of their national quality systems.
On Friday April 17 DGN organizes visits to companies and organizations for delegates COPANT, among which are highlighted visits to the Cerveceria Modelo, facility of NYCE-ANCE-MABE and the food industry Yakult.
Two meetings were also carried out on COPANT Focal Group on Tourism Services, led by Mexico; and the of the Spanish Translation Management Board of ISO, whose secretariat is with AENOR Spain.
The General Assembly session concluded with a dinner hosted by the hosts with typical dances of the country.
This is a press release of the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT). Photos reproduced from COPANT.