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State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, says international accreditation is essential for the survival and competitiveness of Jamaican businesses and laboratories.

She noted that if Jamaica is to fully exploit the opportunities presented by globalisation and trade liberalisation, its goods and services must be at levels of quality that are competitive with those from any other economies across the globe.

The State Minister was speaking at the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation’s (JANAAC) official World Accreditation Day commemorative CEO Breakfast held on June 11 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

During the function, two laboratories were added to the growing list of local and regional entities attaining international accreditation through the services of JANAAC.

The companies, Environmental Solutions Limited and the Sugar Industry Research Institute (SIRI), were awarded accreditation certificates, confirming that they are operating along internationally accepted standards.

Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams commended JANAAC for the work it has been doing over the past five years, noting that some six laboratories have now received certification from the local body.

“This is a big move and I look forward to other accreditations being made in the near future, including our medical laboratories, which are important as we seek to attract investors in the area of health tourism,” she stated.

She pointed out that the more accreditation certificates that are awarded by JANAAC, “the more internationally recognised the Jamaican market will become, and the more attractive we will be to overseas investors.”

For her part, Chief Executive Officer of JANAAC, Marguerite Domville, said since its inception, the Agency has achieved much, even with a staff of just 10 persons.

She noted that among its accomplishments is a recent Memorandum of Understanding with CARICOM partners, Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Services (TT Labs) and the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CrosQ) to provide accreditation services to some 13 CARICOM members.

In addition to awarding six accreditation certificates to local labs, the agency has trained some 91 assessors, through 39 courses conducted in Jamaica and the wider region.

Ms. Domville noted that JANAAC’s main objective, as it moves forward, is to continue offering world-class accreditation services to local and regional labs, with a long-term goal of providing accreditation for inspection and certification bodies.

Chairman of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), Peter Unger, in his remarks, reminded exporters that under the United States (US) Food Safety Modernization Act, all food imports entering the US will need to be certified to international standards.

“They will need to have data that comes from a laboratory accredited by an ILAC/Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) signatory accreditation body otherwise it will not be accepted, or …it will have to be retested upon import, which adds to the cost and slows things down and causes redundancy,” he stated.

Mr. Unger pointed out that part of the aim of local accreditation bodies, like JANAAC, is to avoid redundant testing and unnecessary costs.

He noted that the good news for local exporters and laboratories is that they “still have some time to get things right”, as the implementation of the Act “is a lot longer away than was initially anticipated” and should come into effect by 2017.

JANAAC, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, was established in March 2007 to provide certification at international standards to conformity assessment bodies (CABs), such as laboratories, and certification and inspection bodies.

Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker