CARICOM Standards Body To Facilitate Regional Trade


A Bill, which seeks to establish the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), was passed in the Senate on Friday (Feb.13).
Leader of Government Business and Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who piloted the Bill, explained that CROSQ was designed as an inter governmental organization with the purpose of expediting the harmonization of standards, metrology, technical regulations and the mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures covering goods and services produced or provided in the region. It will facilitate trade in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Additionally, the body will encourage the mutual recognition of accreditation and certification systems, which are based on internationally accepted criteria; facilitate the achievement of international competitiveness of regional goods and services by fostering a culture of quality in regional enterprises; support standards-infrastructure development at the national level; and promote consumer health and safety.
Through its operations, CROSQ will contribute to the preservation of the environment and conservation of those natural resources of the region and provide guidance to community organs and bodies regarding matters within its competence, including disputes settlement.
The body is also intended to promote awareness of standards and standards-related matters to commerce and industry, governments and consumers.
Supporting the Bill, Government Senator and President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Norman Grant said, “the Jamaica agricultural sector has certainly embraced the idea that as a people, as producers, we need to produce bearing in mind the whole question of the consumers needing high quality produce”.
Opposition Senator Shirley Williams however, argued that an accreditation body should be set up before the implementation of CROSQ.
She said, “this Act that is before us today is putting the cart before the horse. Why is it we always proceed to do things out of synch? What we should have brought here is a Bill bringing into law that critical (accreditation) body. That is where we should be going.”
Responding to this, Senator Whiteman said, “you lead first with the standards and you lead with compliance and then you move to accreditation. I don’t know any other way. You can’t start with accreditation, what are you accrediting?”
The annual funding for CROSQ will be derived from contributions of members and associate members of CARICOM. It will cost US$175,000 to establish, with Jamaica’s contribution being $2.4 million annually. Jamaica will finance its establishment for the first three years.
In the future, revenues will also be derived from fees from the use of marks owned and operated by CROSQ and the sale of CARICOM standards. Jamaica, along with seven other CARICOM member states, signed the agreement establishing CROSQ on February 4, 2002.

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