Standards offer many benefits
When newly industrializing countries adopt International Standards nationally, local industries, including small and medium companies - often the lifeblood of an economy - find it easier to participate in global value chains. They are able to sell their components and products to many more markets around the globe. In turn, this allows countries to develop national economies and add jobs.
National adoption of International Standards also facilitates infrastructure development providing access to a much larger selection of suppliers. It also helps protect long-term investment by facilitating maintenance and repair with standardized products. Built-in safety and interoperability together with conformity assessment allows governments to more efficiently protect local populations. Furthermore, active participation in standardization work allows national experts to access a global network of state-of-the-art expertise.
Barriers to adoption identified
A workshop at the 2011 COPANT (Pan-American Standards Commission) General Meeting, in Bridgetown, Barbados, identified a number of challenges linked to national and regional standardization and conformity assessment systems. Participants pointed to obstacles that hindered the national adoption and implementation of International Standards. As a result they had difficulties to fully comply with the requirements of the Code of Good Practice of the WTO (World Trade Organization) TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement.
This Code establishes disciplines for the preparation, adoption and implementation of voluntary standards. It requires that countries use international standards as the basis for national standards, where appropriate. The Code also advocates participation in the work of international standardizing bodies.
Training workshop responds to barriers
To further address the barriers voiced during the workshop in 2011, the Standards Council of Canada under the CATRTA programme organized a follow-up workshop in St Lucia in April 2013. Its goal was to show participating countries how they could become more involved with the work of organizations like the IEC.
A form of participation without the cost
Many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries that attended this workshop participate in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme. Amaury Santos, IEC-LARC (Latin America Regional Centre) Regional Manager delivered a well-rounded training programme to help workshop attendees and their countries to increase participation in the IEC. Santos outlined IEC Affiliate Country Programme advantages and explained how IEC International Standards together with conformity assessment promote the safety of electrical and electronic devices, help protect the environment, and allow them to successfully combat the influx of counterfeit products.
He drew attention to the fact that the Programme offers industrializing countries a form of participation in the IEC without the financial burden of actual membership, allowing them to make full use of the IEC 100% electronic environment.
CATRTA (Canada-Americas Trade Related Trade Assistance) programme is a development assistance initiative funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to support regional activities during the 2013 annual general meeting of COPANT (Pan-American Standards Commission).
Countries that sent representatives to this workshop included: Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Commonwealth of Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Montserrat; Peru; St Lucia; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago.