What is the
Commonwealth Standards Network?

Funding Agency:              DFID (UK Government)

Beneficiary:                       53 Commonwealth Member Country NSBs

Duration:                             <2 Years (06/2018- 03/2020)

Contract type:                   Accountable Grant Arrangement [AGA]

The CSN is a platform for Commonwealth countries to exchange ideas,
share best practice and impart knowledge. Its key aim will be to facilitate
trade and foster innovation across the Commonwealth through the increased use
of international standards. A series of programmes will build the capacity of
Commonwealth states to adopt international standards, while also increasing
their role in international standards development. The programmes include
extensive training and the delivery of a standards toolkit for all participating
Commonwealth states.

Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, said: “The launch of
the Commonwealth Standards Network will strengthen the economic performance of
the member states through closer cooperation in the use of international
standards, which increase competitiveness, support social responsibility and
provide a ‘passport to trade’. We welcome the support of the UK government to
make this happen.

“Independent research in 2015 found that 41% of SMEs and 36% of
large companies in the UK are more likely to export if they use industry
standards. We want to help companies throughout the Commonwealth to become more
competitive and economically successful. Using standards brings growth.”

This project includes three technical assistance work streams in
Saint Lucia and Caribbean, Zambia and Uganda, and Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

What role
do international standard play?

Standards play an important role in promoting productivity and
efficiency, reducing costs, removing barriers to trade, and driving economic
growth. As such, the network will be especially relevant to those members that
are less economically developed, looking to boost their export capabilities
through the use of standards. The programmes delivered in these countries will
include training in the use of standards and onsite technical assistance
programmes, through funding from the BSI Department for International
Development.

The CSN will begin work immediately by identifying a suite of the
top international standards that will support the members’ development
objectives. Rather than creating new standards, it will promote the use of
existing international standards to strengthen trade.

Who are the main palyers involved in
the Commonwealth Standards Network

BSI, the UK National Standards Body, in partnership with the
Department for International Trade and Department for International Development
(DFID – UK Aid), has today launched the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN).
Announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Business Forum this
morning, the UK Government will provide funding over the next two years for the
new initiative, which has been launched to tackle non-tariff barriers and
promote stronger trade amongst all Commonwealth states. The overall
beneficiaries will be all commonwealth member countries.

The
Commonwealth Standards Network – activities

  • Creating an online portal to
    increase information sharing between Commonwealth NSBs and key stakeholders;
  • A repository of information to
    support standardization throughout the Commonwealth;
  • A public area to demonstrate
    the key role that standards can play to facilitate intra-commonwealth trade;
  • A standards toolkit will be
    developed to support standardization throughout the Commonwealth;
  • Mapping and identifying
    Commonwealth members’ economic priorities, and establishing a framework of
    standards that can be used to support these objectives;
  • Delivering a number of training
    programmes for Commonwealth National Standards Bodies in ODA eligible
    countries, to support greater participation in international standardization
    activity;
  • Delivering a number of
    workshops in ODA eligible countries to raise awareness and promote the benefits
    of standardization to key stakeholders from Government and the private sector;
  • Organising an annual Commonwealth
    Standards network meeting, with the inaugural meeting that took place in the
    margins of the ISO General Assembly in Geneva in September 2018.

Expected
project outcomes

  • To increase intra- Commonwealth
    trade and investment;
  • To enable growth of global
    value chains in Commonwealth developing economies, particularly in supported
    sectors;
  • Increase the volume of products
    and services which meet international standards exported in Commonwealth
    developing economies;
  • To create connections between
    Commonwealth countries (particularly NSBs and Ministries of Trade), allowing
    them to identify new trade opportunities;
  • Increased coordination and
    collaboration between national technical experts on standards across the
    Commonwealth;
  • Improved business environment and
    sector competitiveness in Commonwealth developing countries;
  • Developing countries in the
    Commonwealth take a more pro- active role in International Standardization;
  • To enhance the use of ISO and
    IEC standards to foster innovation and improve export potential.

Technical
Assistance Work Streams

Rationale:

  • To offer three bespoke
    Technical Assistance projects addressing key Quality Infrastructure challenges
    in country with a focus on standardization;
  • To enhance the institutional
    capacity of developing National Standards Bodies in these countries (e.g.
    Vanuatu’s NSB only recently set up in 2017);
  • An agreed set of technical
    assistance interventions will be delivered including: trainings, workshops, gap
    analysis studies, study visits to BSI and QI stakeholders, pilot programmes for
    private industry in priority selected sectors etc.

What is the
CSN Saint Lucia and Caribbean Project

The CSN Saint Lucia and Caribbean ODA eligible countries project is
one of the three bespoke technical assistance projects being undertaken on
behalf of UK Aid (DFID) by the British Standards Institution. Through the
project, BSI:

  • Provided a BSI senior technical
    Quality Infrastructure consultant (Team Leader) to live and  work alongside the SLBS and colleagues for 22
    months (June 2018 – March 2020) to assist the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards
    in supporting the National Quality Infrastructure and continuing to raise
    awareness of the importance and relevance of International Standards and
    facilitate wide scale adoption in both public and private sectors in Saint
    Lucia;
  • The Team Leader is located at
    SLBS premises to ensure high levels of beneficiary engagement and availability
    for regular consultations, support and to oversee full project implementation;
  • Provide a pool of international
    short term experts on standardization, conformity assessment,  metrology, private sector development and wider
    NSB commercial assistance if required to assist in delivering specific project
    interventions;
  • Provide and build a pool of
    regional/local short term expertise to ensure skills are retained in country
    after project completion, ensuring a level of project sustainability;
  • Support a wide range of QI
    initiatives based on the initial needs assessment;
  • Provide latest technical
    expertise and the project provides for a one off opportunity to address any
    technical functions SLBS may be looking to develop or strengthen further.  

Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards CSN Project
Objectives

  • Increase Intra-Commonwealth
    Trade through use of international standards;
  • Support the National Quality
    Infrastructure of the country;
  • Increase awareness as to the
    value of standards to society.

General Strategy for Exports

  • To increase further exports it
    is necessary for technical regulations in Commonwealth countries be similar
    thus based on the safety features contained in international standards
    (ISO/IEC/CAC etc.);
  • Standards are based on
    consensus and technical regulations are written to change behaviour, different
    requirements;
  • International standards should
    not be modified because technical requirements cannot be met, transitional
    period should be established;
  • In Saint Lucia the SLBS should
    provide support to its economic operators by offering certification and itself
    be accredited by an recognised national accreditation body such as UKAS
    (exporting to UK where many Caribbeans emigrated to and live) a niche market
    e.g. if the SLBS has international credibility then it can provide credibility
    to exporters;
  • Consumers (who are the economic
    operators client’s and include management, workers and end users, in general
    everyone in society) should be targeted for them to become aware what are
    standards as against regulations, what is the CSN, the value of standards to a
    national economy and to consumers and how standards are used to increase
    exports. With this knowledge the consumer can demand safety and quality thus improving
    the national goods and services provided which ultimately improves the ability
    of enterprises to export;

Activities Designed to fulfil
Objectives and support the Strategy

In order to be able to fulfil the objectives and support
the strategy of this project, it demands a two- fold approach, the first is to
change the national conditions and this is reflected in the need to revise  Standardisation and Metrology Acts and Regulations
to better align with international good practices and in doing so it will
strengthen the national quality infrastructure of the country by also
establishing a policy and committee that will oversee and continue to reinforce
the national quality infrastructure.  

The following components will address the above
mentioned issues.

  • Component 1 NQI

Establish a National Quality Infrastructure Committee and develop a
National Quality Policy;

  • Component 2 Legal
    Approximation

Review the Standardisation legislation,
introduce Good Regulatory Practice Policy document and develop a Regulatory
Impact Assessment and technical regulation model documents;

Secondly, to strengthen the Saint Lucia Bureau of
Standards provision of services to all economic operators, to do this it
becomes necessary for the SLBS to provide services to their stakeholders that
will increase the quality of the produce, products and services that these
provide thus ultimately increase exports to other commonwealth countries.

The following services are required to be strengthened
in order to ensure that enterprises can export and their products will be in
accordance with international good practice.

  • Component 3 Standardisation

Review and improve the SLBS Standardisation
Department to be able to adopt international standards relevant to the present
and future national strategies of Saint Lucia, its economic operators,
including CROSQ standards Caribbean harmonisation;

  • Component 4 Certification

Improve the Certification department of SLBS
regarding its ability to certify the national economic operators to improve
their ability to export to other Caribbean countries, the UK and other
Commonwealth countries, e.g. Establish Credibility of exporters;

  • Component 5 Standards
    Awareness

Increase awareness of standards and the CSN,
how these can assist in trade and exports, sensitise the consumers to demand
quality and safety based on voluntary standards;

  • Component 6 Metrology

Improvecalibration skills so that
measurements required for exports such as temperature and storage tank volumes
can be provided by the SLBS.

All the above components will fulfil the objectives of the CSN
Programme.