The Marketing & Communication Information, Knowledge Management and Education (MIKE) committee met in Grenada last week at Flamboyant Hotel in Grand Anse to discuss training in planning and implementing activities under the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade (EDF/TBT Programme).
MIKE is tasked with the responsibility to identify the stakeholders of the programme and equip them with the necessary tools and information needed to support the programmes of the EDF.
Delivering the feature address at the opening of the 3-day meeting last week Wednesday, Minister of Economic Development, Trade, Planning, Co-operatives and International Business, Oliver Joseph recalled that Grenada was the host of the first ever meeting of aTechnical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment – a group convened to carry out the Conformity Assessment activities of the 10th EDF/TBT Programme of which the operating Plan MIKE Committee is governed.
“The 10th EDF/TBT Programme was developed with the objective of facilitating intra- and inter regional trade, boosting international competitiveness and promoting the sustainable production of goods and services in the CDARIFORUM countries”, he said.
According to Minister Joseph, the programme, which commenced in June 2012, with a completion date set for March 2017, was ”developed to promote the use of the services of the Standards Bureau”.
Acting Director of the Grenada Bureau of Standards (GBS), Robert Melford said the international and regional implementing partners – the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) and German National Metrology Institute (PTB) – through the administration of the 10th EDF Programme have facilitated an information gathering activity geared at developing a QI profile for Grenada.
“This profile would help (the) Grenada Bureau of Standards channel its QI development activities in an efficient and effective way to ensure that needed QI services are available and used, thus enhancing economic and social development”, he told participants.
The Trade Minister pointed out that one of the problems faced in the Caribbean that is usually brought to the forefront whenever trade agreements have been established is the “inability of our local producers and service providers to access internationally recognised, accredited testing and certification services”.
Recognising the efforts of the Grenada Bureau of Standards to have its Chemistry Laboratory accredited, Minister Joseph noted, “once this accreditation is received, Grenadian producers, as well as regional producers can utilise this laboratory and then the region will be better equipped to trade with international markets”.
He added that ”this is a huge step for the region and moreso for Grenada as this will be the first and only chemistry laboratory in Grenada to receive ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation”.
Chief Executive Officer of CARICOM’s Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), Deryck Omar, who also addressed the gathering pointed out that Grenada is among the first batch of Member States to have moved forward to formalise the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CAA) mark that underscore the cooperation mechanism for businesses working towards becoming accredited.
He identified Metrology as another area where Grenada has been putting its best efforts forward with leadership positions at the Caribbean Metrology Cooperation (CARIMET) network, which brings together the talents in metrology among CARICOM states.
He said Grenada has also been very active with respect to regional standards.
“Grenada has been on the forefront when it comes to the adoption of the harmonised regional standards as national standards, having an adoption rate of approximately 65%”, he added.
According to Omar, he is hopeful that Grenada would take on a much greater leadership role as it pertains to regional standards development by assuming the responsibility of hosting the Secretariat for the regional technical committee, the body responsible for the development of regional standards development/harmonisation.
The MIKE Committee is intended to play a very important role in the development of the regional quality infrastructure and national quality infrastructure (QI) systems in the region.
As the name suggests Marketing & Communication Information, Knowledge Management and Education are considered as essential elements for ensuring that QI services, such as standards, Metrology, Testing Conformity Assessment and Accreditation address the needs of the CARIFORUM member states.
CARIFORUM is a sub-group of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, which serves as a base for economic dialogue with the European Union and comprises the 15 Caribbean Community states, along with the Dominican Republic.
Over the years the work of the MIKE committee, has formed the basis for the development of QI with CARIFORUM, through assistance in the development of Marketing and Communication plans and strategies, websites and redesign of existing websites, provision of equipment and training in various areas designed for the active engagement of users of QI services.