The Caribbean Region’s latest quality-related project is looking to take as much advantage of the European Union-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The newest project, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) EPA Programme’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Component, is aiming to find and close the existing quality gaps in key sectors, value chains and organisations; bring greater awareness to the region about quality, and the strengthening of regional quality institutions. It is being managed by the German National Metrology Institute and implemented in the region by CROSQ and the Dominican Republic’s quality institution, INDOCAL.
In addressing his hopes for the 11th EDF EPA TBT, Head of Cooperation with the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Mr. Luis Maia noted that despite the 10 year existence of the EPA in the region, there were still gaps to fill.
“That we have not achieved the EPA’s full potential is more than evident, but the focus should be on the why, the how, and the when. Taking responsibility, and then corrective action, is the only way to address the necessary, but not always easy steps that a trade agreement requires,” he stated.
Mr. Maia assured those gathered in Barbados for the launch that the EU wanted the EPA to work for the Caribbean and were putting in efforts towards that end.
His comments came moments before Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott made similar observances about the challenges of the EPA and its benefits for regional trade.
Dr. Walcott posited that he was at pains to note the lack of expected gains for the region as had originally been envisaged from the signing of the EPA. There was however no single cause, he quickly noted, but a plethora of issues stemming from these developing countries size, vulnerability and other capacity constraints.
Nevertheless, he praised the successful results of the 10th EDF CRIP EPA TBT Programme which came to a close in 2018, for “the progress made towards creating a modern quality infrastructure, according to internationally recognise principles, for the region.”
He singled out the development and operationalisation of regional frameworks for the various quality areas, including standardisation, metrology, conformity assessment and accreditation; as well as the harmonisation of standards and procedures, and the development of capacities of national bureaux of standards across the region.
“The world is moving ahead and with continued pressure from consumers, technical barriers to trade will continue to emerge. We must persevere. We must think outside the box. In order to do so, however, we must take on board the concerns of our consumers and realise the importance of competition,” he stated.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar highlighted that the 11th EDF-EPA TBT Programme had set out to accomplish a number of targets towards making the region more competitive. Among these:
- The development of standards
- Interventions in key value chains
- Accreditation and certification scheme
- Upgrading and accreditation of laboratories and other quality institutions, and
- Education of the general public and business sectors.
The first step towards standardization within the Suriname coconut sector is a fact!
Based on its mandate laid down in SB 2006 no. 30 Article 4, paragraph 1, the Final Draft National Standard “Coconut Oil Specifications” was developed by the Surinamese Standards Bureau (SSB) and was therefore adopted as the National Standard.
As the agency responsible for standards in Suriname, the SSB has proudly announced the National Standard "Coconut Oil - Specifications" as of October 31, 2019.
Stakeholders from the sector who have worked on this standard included, Reinier Taus & Mrs. Gitana Plak from ECTAD-Suriname; Mr. Mohamed S. Khodabaks & Mr. Roel Ramautar from the Ministry of Agriculture; Livestock and Fisheries (LVV); Ms. Brenda van Daal & Ms. Melisa Part of the Marron Women Network; Mr. Rick Ong A Kwie from Principalis Consultancy; Ms. Drucenda Faerber from Shalom N.V.; Ms. Florence Giddings & Ms. Bionella Benali from Consumer Circle; Ms. Roshni Sewradj from Public Health Care Office; Ms. Chermine Burleson from DC South-East Wanica; Mr. Ricardo Vriesde & Ms. Dulci Faerber-Wielzen from DC Coronie; Ms. Joyce Toelsie from DC Nickerie & Mr. Tanwir Hassankhan as Technical Secretary on behalf of the Surinamese Standards Bureau.
This National Standard is a modified adoption of the Regional Standard, Coconut Oil - Specification of the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). The standard specifies the requirements and the sampling and testing methods for coconut oil, which must be followed to be considered safe and suitable for human consumption and which can also be used for domestic and commercial purposes.
The Technical Commission that has worked on the development of this Standard will now act as a National Mirror Commission that will participate in the Revision of the Regional Standards for Coconut Water from CROSQ, after which these Regional Standards will be adopted as National Standards.
Through this, the SSB tries to take the first step towards standardization within the coconut sector, with the aim of contributing to the further growth and strengthening of the coconut sector in Suriname.
For more information, please contact the Surinamese Standards Bureau (SSB).
(This is a release of the Suriname Standards Bureau)
As the world celebrates the standards that enable seamless video production and sharing, on World Standards Day, October 14, 2019, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), will likewise be acknowledging these breakthroughs for the Caribbean with the launch of a digital promotional campaign.
The campaign, part of the Caribbean Development Bank-funded project “Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure”, is set to be launched using social media and online platforms of CROSQ, as well as the National Standards Bodies (NSBs) of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Suriname. Those five countries have been part of the CDB project being implemented by CROSQ.
As part of the project, the Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Suriname are on the path to having National Quality Policies (NQPs) by the end of the year, while Saint Lucia and Suriname have laboratories that are being assisted with accreditation within the same period. Through other initiatives, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica are also in the process of developing NQPs.
CROSQ Project Coordinator, Mr. Terry Hutchinson explained that the project has been very fast-paced with great participation, led by the NSBs in each country, towards finalising the policies that will guide the development of quality services and procedures.
“The critical thing about the development of an NQP, is that there has to be complete involvement of all sectors of society – from government to private sector and civil society because in each case these bodies and institutions are the ones that will have to guarantee the necessary steps are put in place to implement the directives created. It is intended that each policy will be a living document that will help develop countries’ trading abilities and ultimately their sustainability on a national, regional and international stage.
“It is a fact now in the international community that investment into developing all the systems of quality by donors is increasingly dependent on a country’s ability to prove that it has a sustainable plan for how it is developing its internal infrastructure in this regard. So countries in CARICOM that have NQPs stand a much greater chance of not only knowing how they want to plan their own development but in articulating what kinds of assistance they will need to do so,” said Mr. Hutchinson.
CROSQ Technical Officer – Communication and Information, Ms. Latoya Burnham said this is why the campaign was so important. She noted that the quality promotional materials being released will be relevant and accessible to all the standards and quality institutions in CARICOM.
“What we want to do, beginning on World Standards Day is to acknowledge the role video and all technology plays in our development of quality at the national and regional level. So this campaign will utilise digital platforms and animation to underscore why an NQP and national involvement in its development and implementation is so critical. The campaign will also explain to our CARICOM populace why they need to demand quality products and services in everyday life and especially in consumption.
“We’ve also looked at the two main developing areas of production – agriculture and tourism, and developed a pack of tools, information really, that can help processors and stakeholders in those two industries understand better how they can ensure their businesses and practices are driven by quality. We are very aware that our region needs trade to be sustainable, so we are trying to prepare our industries and sectors, beginning with these two, to be more competitive within the spheres where they operate,” she added.
The theme of World Standards Day 2019 is “Video Standards Create a Global Stage”, and around the world, including within the Caribbean, quality-based organisations like National Standards Bureaux of CARICOM will be marking the day with activities aimed at creating awareness of the development and use standards in general.
The digital awareness campaign being kicked off by CROSQ will be visible on the organisation’s websites: crosq.org and qfactor.crosq.org; Twitter: @crosqcaricom; Facebook – @crosq.caricom, as well as on the popular business platform LinkedIn and video platform, YouTube. The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards; the Grenada Bureau of Standards, the Guyana National Bureau of Standards; the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and the Suriname Standards Bureau will also be posting information on their websites and social media. The public is encouraged to tune in and follow for a clearer understanding of how quality can impact their lives for the better.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) has made yet another stride in its efforts to bring international attention to the work of the region in standards and quality services development.
As part of its strategic objective to further support of Member States’ aspirations, develop deeper relations with international and other regional organisations, CROSQ has developed and signed a Collaboration & License Agreement with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL). This agreement was signed at the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) General Assembly in South Africa on 16 September 2019.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing its mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. The organisation conducts rigorous independent research and analyses safety data, convenes experts worldwide to address risks, shares knowledge through education and public outreach initiatives, and develops standards to guide safe, sustainable commercialisation of evolving technologies.
UL devotes resources towards research, education and outreach in five key areas of concentration and together their work strives to improve standards of quality worldwide. These keys areas are as follows:
- Battery Safety
- Chemical Safety
- Data Science
- Electrical product safety
- Fire Safety
This collaboration between CROSQ and UL will provide a framework to:
- Promote communication between the two organizations;
- Avoid duplication of work efforts where possible;
- Increase knowledge of each other’s standards development activities;
- Utilize the resources of UL to strengthen the CARICOM Regional standards system; and
- Allow for the acceptance and use of UL Standards in CARICOM where determined to be appropriate by CROSQ and its network of National Standards Bureaux.
In furtherance of this, both parties will arrange for semi-annual discussions on the status of activities associated with this agreement.
Against this background and in an effort to commence implementation of the provisions set out in the UL/CROSQ Collaboration and Licensing Agreement, a workshop will be held for the CROSQ Council members on the margins of the 35th Meeting of the CROSQ Council on 1 October 2019 on the premises of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards commencing at 8:30 am.
The objectives of this workshop are to:
- create better understanding between our two organizations;
- provide an overview of UL, its standards development process and system;
- overview UL’s catalogue of standards, areas of focus;
- conduct a needs analysis of CROSQ and members; and
- identify possible further areas of collaboration based on the Member States’ needs, including cascading the agreement to the national level in the form of mirror agreements.
New avenues for expanding intra-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) trade are being explored, using quality as the basis for strengthening partnerships with CARICOM Member States.
This development comes with the launch of a second component of a joint TradeCom II Programme/ CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) initiative, funded by the ACP-European Union. The Kick-off meeting on the 11 March 2019 featured the start of this 2nd component of the TradeCom II programme. The overall aim of this TradeCom II intervention is to provide assistance to develop the quality services in the region, thereby allowing for increased trade capacity, competitiveness, diversification and economic performance. CARICOM’s National Bureaux of Standards (NSBs) are the main focus for the activities.
The project aims to:
o contribute to the activation of intra-regional quality infrastructure agreements in support of market access and improved trade performance through improved capacity in standards and technical regulations development and implementation in CARICOM. This will be facilitated through a feasibility study for developing trade capacity, enabling sustainability Standards and associated conformity assessment modalities, modelling the success of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and a comparability study with European Standards Organisation/European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CEN/CENELEC).
o support the development of an optimized quality infrastructure in the Pacific Region for enhanced trade competitiveness. This entails enhancing the understanding and capacity for developing Quality Infrastructure (QI) in the Pacific Islands Forum States (PIFS) through sharing the experiences of CROSQ, ARSO and CEN/CENELEC.
To achieve these goals, CROSQ will be working with the Quality Institute consultants to improve the capacity in standards and technical regulations development, and to reinforce the quality infrastructure cooperation between CROSQ, ARSO and the PIF. ARSO and PIFS are intergovernmental organisations like CROSQ that attempt to foster greater cooperation with and amongst members towards the development of the respective regions.
In his welcoming remarks on behalf of CROSQ, manager, Mr. Mohan Nandwani, pointed out that it was heartening that within the framework of activating intra-regional quality infrastructure agreements to support market access and improved trade, that this phase of the entire intervention would also see greater cooperation amongst the partners involved.
“This initiative will also include a feasibility study for developing trade capacity, enabling sustainability standards and associated conformity assessment modalities by CROSQ. This will be achieved through collaboration with ARSO. CROSQ will also be providing support to the development of an optimised quality infrastructure in the Pacific region to enhance their trade competitiveness and understanding of QI,” he said.
The European Union (EU) Delegation’s Programme Manager, Mr. Sheldon Jackman echoed the sentiments on the importance of such collaborations.
“We at the EU were heartened by the fact that cooperation was the underlying factor in making the project under the 10th EDF [European Development Fund] a successful one, and we also see that cooperation is one of the key pillars under the EPA,” he said, noting the necessity of collaborations between national and regional authorities in the area of quality towards facilitating both intra- and inter-regional trade.
He added that the EU was also encouraged by the fact that this project demonstrated a bridge between the 10th and 11th EDF Technical Barriers to Trade programmes, demonstrating the significance of collaboration, enthusiasm and cooperation, “to ensure that the commitments under the EPA by the CARIFORUM states are still being well implemented and are still top of mind”.
“Finally, I would like to stress the importance of the work being done that needs to be centred, not only on the protection of consumers but also on the private sector in the Caribbean, with practices that respond to its needs, that focus on the value chain, that build on the potential of the Caribbean economies, and concretely help businesses to export more and to achieve market penetration, not only in the EU but in other countries,” Mr. Jackman added.
CROSQ Project coordinator, Mr. Stephen Farquharson, who is also the Technical Officer – Accreditation and Conformity Assessment, noted that jointly, these initiatives revealed synergies in their objectives. Whilst the first phase focussed on the creation of a regional guide for Good Regulatory Practices, he stated that the current project was developed against the background of new and emerging practices to meet international requirements. He further noted that the initiatives also highlighted the need for interventions that would assist bureaux with coping with their changing roles in new environments; the growing need for inter-operability and the need for awareness of the economic benefits of standards.
The Lead Key Expert, Mr. Sibbesen was keen about analysing some of the factors contributing to the RQI not being fully successful and to use this opportunity to recommend strategies for its’ strengthening. There needs to be a proper balance between the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) and the Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) with proper involvement of the end-users (producers, manufacturers – who are mostly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)).
Mr. Fulgence St. Prix noted that the “Quality Culture” of CARICOM is generally developing through increasing awareness of the importance of quality, hence the need to continue to build capacity via quality promotions. Endorsing the importance of the project, Mr. St. Prix further indicated that through the successful implementation of this project we will see the strengthening of relations between CROSQ and CEN/CENELEC; CROSQ and ARSO, which fits with the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) established between CROSQ and the EU standards body; and which redounds to increase maturity of the CROSQ network.
Grenada has received an opportunity to develop a National Quality Policy (NQP) through the programme ‘Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure’. The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) has received funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to administer this programme, with one of its components being the development of national quality policies in Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda and Suriname.
A Quality Policy is the legal instrument used by governments in promoting and sustaining economic development, as well as environmental and social well-being. It is used to sustain an effective quality infrastructure, which relies on metrology, standardization, accreditation, conformity assessment and market surveillance.
The launch of the development process of Grenada’s Quality Policy was held on March 19, 2019 at the conference room of the Grenada Bureau of Standards (GDBS). Hon. Oliver Joseph, Minister of Trade, Industry, Co-operatives & CARICOM Affairs was there to share his excitement with this new development.
The firm chosen to spearhead the development of the quality policies is MESOPARTNER, a firm whose key experts are from the CARICOM region. Following the launch of the quality policy, the consultants met with the project steering committee, whose Chairman is the Permanent Secretary for Trade, Industry, Co-operatives & CARICOM Affairs, Mr. Aaron Francois. The Project Steering Committee has as its main goal, the task of overseeing the direction and guiding the process of the development of the Quality Policy.
Several stakeholder engagements will be held throughout the year to obtain data that will be used to develop the Quality Policy, which is anticipated to be complete by December 2019.
Grenada joins Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname under this project to develop national quality policies. St. Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis are currently developing their own NQPs, and will join countries including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, as bearers of national quality policies.
Mr. Robert Medford Ms. Lois Mc Guire
Director Information Officer
Grenada Bureau of Standards Grenada Bureau of Standards
Tel: 440- 5886/6783 Tel: 440-5886/6783