One of the thematic working groups of SAARC-TPN is the Working Group on Quality Infrastructure (WG QI). Quality infrastructure (QI) can be understood as the totality of the institutional framework (public or private) required for establishing and implementing standardization, metrology and accreditation - as well as conformity assessment services. The latter comprise inspection, testing, and certification of products and systems. QI provides evidence that products and services meet defined requirements. These requirements might either be imposed by the authorities (in technical regulations and sanitary and phytosanitary measures) or demanded by the marketplace. The SAARC region has much to gain from a well-functioning QI. It helps to promote trade within the region and outside, protects consumers and deepens regional integration.
The WG QI was formed in June 2010 at the annual Operations Committee Meeting (OCM) in Sri Lanka, with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). From February 2015 onwards, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) has taken over the role as a facilitator of the WG QI’s work. PTB is Germany’s national metrology institute. Since more than 50 years PTB is engaged worldwide in technical cooperation where it deals with all aspects of QI. Since 2013 PTB runs the project “Promoting Regional Integration and Cooperation in the Area of Quality Infrastructure” on behalf of the BMZ. The support to the WG QI has become part of a component of the project which targets raising awareness on QI especially within the business communities of the SAARC region.
One of the key activities of the WG QI, besides QI awareness raising events, is conducting a series of seminars on export quality management (EQM). The EQM seminars acquaint small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the important features of QI in areas, which are necessary to make them compliant. They also introduce the participants into practical web-based tools which enable them to access information tailored to company needs (for instance on standards in the company’s business field). The EQM seminar was developed by the International Trade Centre (ITC) of the United Nations, as well as PTB. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) organized the second batch of EQM seminars which were held in Chittagong (30th September and 1st of October 2015) and in Dhaka (3rd and 4th of October 2015). During the seminars, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) also provided insights into its tasks. The seminars received a very positive feedback from the participants due to the relevance of the content and the quality of the implementation. It has become clear that the EQM seminar has achieved a high degree of maturity and is ready for dissemination on a wider scale (the EQM abstract “A bird’s eye view” can be downloaded from the PTB website by following this link:
A bird’s eye view for small and medium-sized exporters Abstracted from the complete guide on Export Quality Management
Immediately following the seminar, the WG QI held its second meeting on the 5th and 6th of October 2015 in Dhaka. It developed a new work plan valid up to March 2017. The plan prioritizes a continuation of the awareness raising events, the development of QI-related services of the member organizations of the working group and a more intensified dissemination of the results of the WG QI. During its meeting, the WG QI also had the honour to host a delegation of the South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (SARSO) for an introduction of the tasks and activities of the working group. The meeting was followed by a visit to the premises of SARSO as well as BSTI. SARSO expressed its interest in staying current with the WG QI activities and in future collaborations, as and when opportunities arise.
Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA)
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI)
Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)
Ministry of Commerce and Supply, Nepal (MoCS)
National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL)
SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI)
Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC)
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