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.
All eyes will be focussed on Antigua and Barbuda next week, when the 30th Council of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) meets for the close out of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme and Directors’ meeting.
The March 13 – 17th Council meeting is expected to attract more than 50 persons from the 15 CARICOM Member States, the Dominican Republic, and even as far away as Germany, as many international organisations and agencies affiliated with trade and the European Union-funded 10th EDF TBT programme arrive in the country for the meeting.
The first day will feature a Close out Seminar of the CARIFORUM 10th EDF-TBT Programme which began in 2012. The programme, which lasted for a period of five (5) years, and will conclude this month, and was centred around the building of the region’s capabilities in the several areas of quality infrastructure, and using these capabilities as a means of managing and reducing technical barriers to trade. Quality infrastructure (QI) refers to the development of standards for products and services; metrology - which is the science of measurements and its related infrastructure; accreditation, and conformity assessment - primarily the services of testing, inspection and certification.
The managers and implementers of the project, namely the German Metrology Institute (PTB), and CROSQ, along with the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL), will give a breakdown of the project, with discussions centred on the successes, challenges, and lessons learnt over the past five (5) years.
The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), which is serving as local hosts to the week of activities and meetings, will also use the occasion to launch the Antigua and Barbuda National Quality Awards Programme, which, once fully established, will recognise local producers and manufacturers of goods, as well as service providers who are and have introduced quality management and other quality-based systems and activities into their businesses.
“This is going to be a big occasion for Antigua and Barbuda to host an event of significant regional importance, and also to introduce to the public of our country the concept of creating a quality culture with the launch of this National Quality Awards. These Awards, which will be launched on the evening of March 13 will say to our businesses that we recognise the efforts to produce quality for our own consumption, as well as for export to the region and the rest of the globe.
“It is an initiative that was encouraged under the 10th EDF-TBT Programme, but one we thought important enough to introduce to our public and private sector here in Antigua and Barbuda. It will be a great celebration and achievement for all of us; and to have the rest of the region watching the unfolding of this Awards will be a tremendous boost for the country,” said Director of the ABBS, Mrs. Dianne Lalla-Rodrigues.
It was a sentiment shared by Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo. He noted that the CROSQ Council of Directors was pleased to be hosted by the ABBS and the country of Antigua and Barbuda for the closing of the 10th EDF-TBT Programme which he noted had brought several notable improvements to the development of quality infrastructure in the region.
“We’ve seen advancements in equipment, physical infrastructure, skills of staff who have been trained in various areas and have participated in exercises to prove their competence over the period. I can say without contradiction that this programme has been a benefit to our region and has enabled us to form closer and greater ties with our colleagues across the region and further north to the Dominican Republic,” he said.
The Chairman said he was looking forward to the week of activities and to discussing with partners from the European Union, the CARIFORUM Directorate, as well as Germany and the Dominican Republic, the accomplishments that have been realised, as well as the valuable lessons learnt, which can be used for future developments in our quality infrastructure in the region;.
The 10th EDF-TBT Programme Close-out Seminar will take place on March 13, 2017 and will be followed by the meeting of the CROSQ Council, from Tuesday March 14, 2017 to Thursday March 16, 2017, where Directors and Executive Directors from National Standards Bodies across the CARICOM Region will look at arrangements for further developing QI across the region as well as other collaborative efforts for the year ahead.
About the 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.