On January 16, 2020, CROSQ hosted the launch of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme. This TBT component of the programme is being managed by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB), but is implemented in the CARIFORUM region by CROSQ and the Dominican Republic’s quality institution, INDOCAL.
What is the 11th EDF-EPA TBT Programme?
To put it simply, this programme involves the CARIFORUM countries – i.e. the 15 Member States of CARICOM, plus the Dominican Republic, and is funded by the European Unio(EU). There are several components to the programme, one of which tackles what are called technical barriers to trade. That is where the quality component lies and where CROSQ and its partners come in.
The EPA was originally signed in 2008 to build on long-standing relationships between the Caribbean the EU, and without going too technical, the goal was to offer new market opportunities to the CARIFORUM states and foster greater regional trade. The way in which this was to be done was through finding ways to minimise reasons why trade was impeded, at least from a technical stand-point – dealing with the quality issues that might exist, not only for the Caribbean but looking internationally at what is and isn’t allowed.
So the various iterations, from the 9th to now the 11th EDF have had components looking at quality issues – the 10th being the most successful thus far with about 90% achievement of outcomes.
While the 10th EDF-TBT component looked at developing a number of regional schemes and facilities to help develop and improve the performance of quality institutions, mainly National Standards Bodies (NSBs), the 11th EDF-TBT is looking more at the national level.
What is it attempting to do?
The 11th EDF-TBT, and you can check out the official page for more details, has three main objectives:
- Identification and closure of quality gaps in key sectors and organisations;
- Promotion of a quality culture throughout the region;
- Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure.
With these three objectives, the partners of the 11th EDF TBT are trying to work more with the private sector quality institutions; bring more education and awareness to quality and build the kind of systems that can redound to sustainability of the work done.
You can listen to some of the highlights of speeches and pledges of the partners from the opening ceremony or read the press release, but essentially it was acknowledged that this is a continuation of the journey into providing our region with adequate quality systems, checks and balances that will help us trade more competitively amongst ourselves and further abroad. By reducing the technical issues, such as quality considerations, it means that there is one less area to worry about when businesses start looking at expanding beyond physical national borders.