11:30am (Fiji Standard Time), Monday
02 September 2019
Nadi, Fiji : The Pacific Regional Quality Infrastructure Initiative, an endeavour spearheaded by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), was launched this morning in Nadi.
The initiative is a partnership between the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the German Institute for Metrology (PTB), the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and the European Union funded Trade Com II facility.
The initiative aims to strengthen national and regional institutions to support Pacific businesses improve the quality of goods and services and meet international trade standards.
In international trade terminology, Quality Infrastructure encompasses the institutions tasked to provide acceptable evidence that products and services meet defined quality requirements. It includes institutions responsible for quality laws and regulations, quality awareness, standards, metrology, accreditation, and conformity assessment.
In the trade area, sound Quality Infrastructure Systems guarantee access to overseas markets for goods and services (including tourism). Quality Infrastructure Systems are a key component of trade facilitation, together with Customs and Biosecurity systems.
Poor Quality Infrastructure Systems can result in barriers to trade which impact on economies, and businesses.
Following the launch, a workshop is being held to assess the main gaps preventing ‘Pacific quality’ to be internationally recognised and priced, and investigate possible options to strengthen the institutions mandated to promote quality in the Pacific.
The workshop will benefit from the contribution of over forty international and regional agencies and with a proven record on trade quality issues.
Mr Zarak Khan, Director of Programmes and Initiatives at the PIFS opened the session in Nadi and reflected on the challenges that the region face in trade quality infrastructure.
“Sheer quality is abundant in the Pacific, but unfortunately the region is often lacking the ability to transform its natural attributes into something that the world can appreciate and price.
“Producing our vegetables with nothing but water and hard-work does not warrant an organic label; building our tourism bungalows with nothing but forestry products doesn’t warrant the designation as sustainable tourism.
“Pacific Quality Infrastructure Systems are underdeveloped, our main objective this week is to identify the most severe deficiencies and to collectively agree on how to address them” said Mr Khan.
The outcomes of the Pacific Regional Quality Infrastructure Workshop will be submitted to Forum Trade Ministers for consideration and approval, and subsequently used to develop project proposals for mobilising Aid for Trade resources from key development partners.