BNSI/CROSQ Workshop Promotes SME Competitiveness

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Minister of Commerce, Senator Haynesley Benn (FP)

In order for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to flourish, the organisations which support them need to understand the challenges they face.?? This is the premise behind this week’s Standards and Conformity Assessment Workshop, which began at the Savannah Hotel today.

The event, a collaborative effort between the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), will look to ???promote SME Competitiveness in the Caribbean through Technical Standards’, and offer insight into the process and purpose of developing and implementing standards.

Minister of Commerce, Senator Haynesley Benn, delivered the feature address at the opening of the two-day forum. He said that the workshop, which is one component of CROSQ’s regional SME Project, focuses on strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs, and was a step in the right direction for national and regional growth.????

"Difficulties arise when standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures differ from one market to another. Such differences can be costly, as in some cases the additional costs of meeting different requirements of each export market can account for as much as 10 per cent of production costs. The regional SME Project was designed to address these concerns and facilitate trade among the CARICOM member states by harmonising the standards (and hence requirements) within the region to ensure that the requirements to be met are the same for all the member states," Mr. Benn explained.

The Commerce Minister also implored business support organisations and SMEs alike to embrace the benefits of standardisation.

"Standards and conformity assessment are your partners in business. International standards give service providers the guidelines on how to design a product or service, including how to improve and ensure customer satisfaction, ??a critical factor for the success of the service economy that Barbados has become…they also provide a platform for the dissemination of technological innovations both in developed and developing countries. They help markets to grow faster and increase global trade," he asserted.

The workshop will be facilitated by international expert, Leopoldo Colombo, of Argentina, who will guide participants through the daily sessions.?? Mr. Colombo stressed that the role of standards should not be underestimated.

"Standards are a part of our everyday life, they are influencing our life as a society, as a country, affecting our competitiveness, our capacity to insert ourselves successfully in the global economy.?? So it’s necessary for support organisations to understand what standards are, what conformity assessment is, so when SMEs go to a bank or an insurance company or a governmental office asking for help to implement a standard, those organisations understand the challenges those types of enterprises face," he said.

Over the next two days, participants will be exposed to information on the standardisation process, conformity assessment in action, the basic principles of competitiveness standards, quality and competitiveness for SMEs.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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