Admitting that Barbados’ national quality infrastructure is not yet fully developed, the Minister of Commerce has pledged urgent attention to the system by which international standards are measured and enforced here.
Assuring delegates to the 34th meeting of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Minister Dwight Sutherland said the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) and CROSQ would ensure the infrastructure’s development, under a new NQI policy aimed at boosting export competitiveness.
“Government considers this goal as urgent, and of very
high priority, in our efforts to enhance the national competitiveness of our local micro-small and medium size (MSMEs) businesses, industries and the promotion of fair trade,” he said.
The Commerce Minister said the proposed NQI policy is to improve the export competitiveness of Barbados’ goods, services and produce, and strengthen the capacity of MSME businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish and succeed locally, intra-regionally, and in extra-regional markets.
Stressing that the NQI policy would also serve to defend our domestic and regional borders from inferior, hazardous and illicit goods and services, he said that it was also Government’s objective to use the application of the NQI to rebuild the economy “in a sustainable manner”.
Sutherland said to expand international trade, countries cannot underestimate the importance of adopting and implementing internationally recognised and accepted metrology, accreditation, standardisation, and quality practices.
Meeting global standards is the gateway to global trade, market access and export competitiveness, and contributes to consumer confidence in product safety, quality, health and the environment, he told the delegates.
Sutherland said regional economies needed to continuously upgrade on new trade standards and be able to conform to an increasing number of new regulations, or question the validity of proposed regulations that they consider discriminatory, and put the region’s perspective strongly.
He added that the basic enabling environment for providing proof of compliance was the national quality infrastructure, and he stressed if CARICOM countries wanted to attract foreign investments, they must keep in mind that infrastructure, including quality infrastructure, was one of the key pre-requisites which foreign investors considered.
Sutherland said: “In the case of a national quality infrastructure (NQI), they must at the very least ensure access to international standards and technical regulations, guarantee reliable measurements, and set up a system that will allow accreditation of their testing and certification facilities in such a way that the results of these bodies will be internationally accepted.”