KINGSTON — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), Reginald Budhan, says the ministry has intensified its programme to get laboratories accredited, and business stakeholders certified with the International Standards Organization (ISO).
This is to ensure that products being exported meet the stipulated standards of the countries for which they are intended, Mr. Budhan said.
He was speaking at a stakeholders’ breakfast marking World Accreditation Day, Thursday (June 9), under the theme: “Accreditation, supporting the work of Regulators”, hosted by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston.
The move is expected to complement initiatives the Government has already undertaken, including establishing an independent national accreditation body to meet the requirements of other countries, and a national certification body to certify companies in key ISO standards.
Mr. Budhan noted that the United States has passed two legislations – the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (2008), to regulate all consumer products entering that country; and the Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to strengthen its food safety system, with emphasis on preventing food-borne illnesses.
He pointed out that both laws, and their regulations, stipulate that products being imported be tested by an accredited laboratory before entering.
He said that the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act also requires that the accreditation body be a signatory to the International Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA).
“The establishment of JANAAC and the Certification Body of Jamaica are critical institutional infrastructure, which the government has put in place to support the National Export Strategy,” he explained.
“The Government…is therefore asking the business community to try and catch up. The Ministry does not want to have to react to problems being experienced by companies, when they cannot get their products into foreign markets because of non-conformity,” he added.
Mr. Budhan pointed out that since its establishment, JANAAC has played a pivotal role in facilitating trade between Jamaica and its trading partners, by accrediting assessment entities such as laboratories, certification bodies and other inspection authorities, to conform to international standards and World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.
Additionally, he advised that JANAAC is working with regulators in other areas to improve the efficiency of the economy in: maintenance of health care services; quality control of food sold on the market; protection of the environment; and improvement in the safety and quality of locally manufactured products, citing the importance of these areas to Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030.
“As we mark World Accreditation Day, we recognize JANAAC’s role in helping Jamaica achieve this goal through its work of accreditation, which directly impacts Jamaica’s ability to develop products to satisfy local needs and meet global acceptance,” he stated.
Noting that Jamaica exported goods and services totalling just over US$1.3 billion in 2010, Mr. Budhan pointed out that this clearly indicated that growth is dependent on its ability to increase its export capacity.
“We must work towards the position where all goods, once tested in Jamaica, are accepted globally without the need for further testing. This is one vital step in clearing potential technical barriers to trade, that regulations could pose. Failing this, Jamaica’s trading partners could have the basis to refuse our country’s exports,” he said.
He concluded that the celebration of World Accreditation Day presented the ideal opportunity to encourage all Jamaican manufacturers, service providers, laboratories and exporters to avail themselves of the accreditation services provided by JANAAC, to ensure that the country’s products meet internationally accepted standards.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter