"Accreditation for Market Access" – A new approach to economic development

2009-July-22

The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards in its capacity as the nation's National Metrology Institution (NMI) hosted a seminar entitled "Accreditation for Market Access" in observance of both; World Metrology Day, 20 May 2009 and World Accreditation Day, 09 June 2009. The seminar was attended by personnel representing both the public and private sectors as well as academic institutions. Although sparsely attended the seminar's presentations as well as the Minster's address stimulated much useful discussions on important issues pertaining to quality for production and quality assurance as these relate to standards and standardisation, metrology and accreditation and their related activities.

Accreditation for Services

Whereas the application of accreditation process is easier described for the production of goods much discussion surrounded accreditation of services and service providers. It was within these discussions that the theme for this year -'competence'- featured greatly. The purpose of accrediting persons and processes is to give assurance of their competence to provide the consumer and/or end-users with the product or service required to an acceptable standard and a standard that is suitable for the consumer, thus developing the consumers' confidence in the producers and products of goods and services. The emphasis on accreditation for services especially the service providers stems from the fact that services are consumed immediately - there is no opportunity for recall, storage on a shelf or return if something goes wrong.

Market Access for Goods

Discussions on the application of quality measures was primarily dominated by discussions on specifications of agricultural produce - the main example of one area that Antigua and Barbuda is falling down in its efforts to be competitive regionally and internationally. The main concern is that the prevailing non-uniformity of the produce hinders:

  • Capacity to produce goods that can rival others for esthetic appeal
  • Capacity for cooperation among farmers for meeting market quotas for exports and agro-processing
  • The proposal for accessing new markets
These afore-mentioned hindrances are true for many goods and services and suggest that industries should consider more the use of standards for product development and the possibilities of forming industry groups that can then share the cost of product certification and accreditation of businesses.

Laboratory Accreditation

The discussions proceeding from the matter of laboratory accreditation brought emphases to two very important matters highlighting issues that laboratories have to have their personnel as well as their test - procedures accredited. Discussion points included:

  • Laboratories are often accredited for some procedures not all;
  • Laboratory personnel may not all be accredited
  • There is a growing need for accredited facilities, test procedures and laboratory personnel especially in areas such as forensics, anti-doping surveillance and (for sports), product certification.
The availability of accredited laboratory facilities and test procedures can make or break Antigua and Barbuda's opportunities for bidding competitively to host international events or agencies and for facilitating trade and economic development in all areas

Overall, accreditation and the application of quality measures can be used as tools for building credibility and market competitiveness.

For more information about Accreditation, Laboratory Accreditation and metrology kindly contact the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards, Corner Redcliffe Street & Corn Alley, P.O. Box 1550, St. John's, Antigua (W.I.) or Telephone 462-2424 or email: abbs@antigua.gov.ag.

 

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  1. Standards Act
  2. Metrology Act
  3. Antigua and Barbuda Standards Regulations, 1998