Export-oriented businesses in Barbados, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis will be offered globally standardised testing at domestic laboratories as early as next year, says Daniel Best, Director of Project Department at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The CDB has partnered with the European Union (EU) and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) to upgrade labs, train staff, and in the case of St Kitts and Nevis, develop a national quality policy, all in an effort to ensure businesses can deliver globally recognised goods and services required for trade.
This work will take place under the Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure programme, which was officially launched recently. Best said the programme in Barbados, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, which is supporting the upgrades “will add value to local and regional enterprises and focuses on several important subsectors in each economy, namely agro-processing, transportation and construction”, which he said was being provided at an opportune time.
The intervention is being funded by the CARIFORUM-European Union Economicø Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building, financed by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and managed by the CDB.
It is part of the CDB’s wider thrust to stimulate private sector-led growth, focused on micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) development.
Director General of CARIFORUM at the CARICOM Secretariat Percial Marie set the context for the project, stating that while there have been improvements in the region’s trade with Europe by businesses leveraging export opportunities, there were gaps in both private and public sectors which require attention.
Luis Maia, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Barbados said “as COVID-19 forces unprecedented changes to the way we work, live and learn, the Standby Facility creates a critical avenue to address inequalities and constraints threatening growth in trade while providing much needed aid to effectively implement CSME and EPA related activities at the national level”.
Meanwhile, Deryck Omar, Chief Executive Officer at CROSQ, which is implementing the US$874,932 project, supported this view.
“Through projects and resources, such as the European Union’s Standby Facility, we can make steps to bring our businesses and, by extension, our economies ever closer to being more competitive and sustainable”.
While the CDB provided US$118,840 from its Special Development Fund (SDF), US$587,325 was allocated from the Standby Facility. Exporters from various productive sectors in the region face several barriers when entering new markets, including issues relating to quality and adherence to globally accepted standards.
This project will assist local firms in accessing resident metrology services increasing export readiness, these arrangements will serve to strengthen manufacturing, reduce production costs and increase the competitiveness of local commodities.
The Standby Facility is a €8.75 million resource managed by CDB, which offers opportunities to 15 Caribbean economies to grow trade, deepen integration and economic involvement, and impact competitiveness, market access and exports by implementing targeted projects in thematic areas. (PR)