Crucial for international trade and competitiveness
Quality infrastructure (QI) incorporates metrology, standardization, accreditation, and conformity assessment. A country’s internationally recognized QI system provides evidence that its products and services meet international standards. Having a functioning QI system in place is a prerequisite for companies’ market access and improves the protection of domestic consumers and the environment. Exporters whose products need to comply with market requirements have to have access to internationally recognized conformity assessment procedures, including testing, inspection and certification. However, many developing countries lack internationally recognized conformity assessment bodies. As a result, exporters face difficulties in demonstrating product compliance, and often have to undertake complex and costly conformity assessments abroad. To set-up a QI system, governments are required to establish at least three institutions providing the services mentioned in the graphic. (Source graphic: Information obtained from PTB (2001): A national quality infrastructure)
As shown in the illustration, there is a strong interrelation between QI institutions. Standards cannot be defined without reference to reliable measurements. In turn, measurements must be internationally standardized. In order to determine a product’s internationally recognized conformity, it must be tested in laboratories that are accredited by an internationally recognized authority. Successfully implementing a QI system creates confidence regarding products and services in both domestic and export markets. Consequently, businesses align their production processes with international requirements, which in turn enhance their international competitiveness.
GFA concept and services
Many countries suffer from serious constraints in fully implementing a QI system. Deficiencies range from a lack of technical capabilities and equipment as well as national legislations to insufficiently qualified human resources and weak institutions. GFA supports the development of QI systems in developing and EU accession countries by providing strengthening of national QI institutions to develop and enhance demand-oriented, effective and efficient QI services that follow international best practice. Our experts support procedural reforms of QI framework conditions and upgrade according skills in line with EU best practice. Internationally experienced teams of experts enhance the technical capacities of QI institutions to include international rules and regulations into their legal framework and to enforce them accordingly. They also assist beneficiary institutions to increase the public awareness towards an enhanced quality culture.