The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROS&Q) began a three-day meeting Wednesday with Barbados Industry and Commerce Minister Donville Innis warning regional importers of attempting to bring in inferior products into the Caribbean.
Outlining a number of guidelines for improving the quality of regional standards, Innis told the delegates to the 32nd meeting of the CARICOM body that stiffer laws are needed ensure the standards in the countries are upheld.
“I see it quite often when importers bring into the islands items and then they are stopped at the border by vigilant standard officer and then politicians then “receive calls asking for importers to be accommodated.
“May I suggest that all importers arm themselves with knowledge of our standards including acceptable labels prior to placing your orders.
“After all we would dare not think of exporting our products to developed countries without understanding their standards,” he told the regional delegates, adding “so why should we accept theirs…if they do not conform to our standards.
CROSQ is the regional centre for promoting efficiency and competitive production in goods and services, through the process of the verification of quality.
The organisers said the meeting will discuss how standardisation, trade and trade facilitation, and international health matters, among other issues, fit into the quality agenda of the region.
According to the organisers, the third day of the event, which is exclusive to the directors, will plan the direction and development of quality infrastructure for the year ahead.
The Secretary General of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Sergio Mujica, is also attending the meeting here.
In his address, Innis said that some regional countries have a wrong priority and were not paying their dues.
“I am deeply troubled for those member states that are not paying their dues to regional institutions. I have been a Cabinet minister for 10 years and have attended many CARICOM meetings, engaged in some of the most robust debates…only to find that those keeping the most noise have not paid their dues to the institutions.
“I have also travelled extensively outside of the region…and I have to be frank, sometimes you see cabinet ministers and senior public officers from delinquent islands, delinquent in terms of their dues…and sometimes the fees due…are only about US$5,000 a year, but the front of the aircraft is filled with officers at the rate of almost US$7,000 per seat. Then you add to that accommodation…and I say we have wrong priorities”.