The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), through its public-private partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Standards Alliance, organized a half-day roundtable on National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) in Maputo, Mozambique, on June 20. The event was held in coordination with the Corporate Council on Africa's (CCA) U.S.- Africa Business Summit, with the goal of supporting a more resilient and sustainable partnership between the U.S. and African countries in the area of NQI. Participants from the U.S. and African public and private sectors included multiple heads of state.
NQI encompasses frameworks for standards, metrology, accreditation, and conformity assessment, which together help promote high quality, safe products and services in a country. NQI also facilitates international trade by reducing unnecessary barriers to trade.
To achieve this aim, approximately 40 participants engaged in candid discussions about areas for mutual collaboration in elevating participating nations' quality systems by focusing on international best practices. Representatives from five countries also detailed their nation's existing national quality structures and underpinning elements. The discussions helped provide insights into the respective approaches to protect citizens while ensuring that quality structures do not hinder innovation or market access.
Setting the stage for the event, a representative from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative provided an overview of international best practices for NQI and good regulatory practices based on the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) Agreement. Following this presentation, six representatives from ANSI, ASTM International, the Mozambique National Institute for Standardization and Quality (INNOQ), the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Senegalese Directorate of Internal Trade (DCI), and the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) provided presentations on NQI and regulatory processes.
Presenters provided tangible examples of how each country and region approaches quality and the institutional structures that support international, national, and cultural goals. Following each presentation, the speakers joined a panel discussion on best practices and methods for improving quality infrastructure through collaborative efforts between the U.S. and Africa.
About the Standards Alliance and Trade Africa
The Standards Alliance was announced by USAID in November 2012 as a funding facility designed to provide capacity-building assistance to developing countries, specifically related to implementation of the WTO TBT Agreement.
The main objectives of the program include: increased understanding of WTO TBT principles; implementation of the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards; improved transparency in the development and/or modification of technical regulations; and more robust and transparent engagement with the private sector in standards development and use.
Trade Africa was an initiative between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa that was initiated in 2013 with countries of the East African Community to increase continental and regional trade within Africa, and to expand trade and economic ties among the Unites States, Africa, and other global markets. In 2014, the Trade Africa Initiative expanded to involve new partners, including Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zambia. In support of Trade Africa, the Standards Alliance partnered with Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zambia to improve compliance with the WTO rules on trade facilitation and technical barriers to trade.
For more information on the Standards Alliance and for information on how to get involved in Standards Alliance activities, visit the Standards Alliance web page.