Pacific Quality Infrastructure

This Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative embodies our collective recognition of the pivotal role that Quality Infrastructure plays in nurturing and sustaining trade development. 

Quality Infrastructure, through the mutual acknowledgment of standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures, emerges as a potent tool for overcoming technical barriers to trade. It doesn't only reduce transaction costs but significantly elevates business competitiveness by granting access to international best practices and improving compatibility within international supply chains. 

The regional focus of the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative is pivotal, enabling us to pool our collective resources, expertise, and experiences to achieve shared priorities in the most cost-effective manner"

Shaheen Ali, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, SMEs & Communication, Fiji.

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    QI, through the mutual acknowledgment of standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures, emerges as an important tool for overcoming technical barriers to trade. It reduces transaction costs, significantly elevates business competitiveness, and improves compatibility with international supply chains. QI is critical for promoting and sustaining economic development, as well as environmental and social wellbeing.

    In 2017, the establishment of the PQI Initiative was endorsed by Forum Trade Officials. From 2017-2019, the PQI Initiative focused on partnership building and diagnostic studies, which culminated with the first regional QI workshop in the Pacific. From the outcomes of that workshop, the Secretariat developed a medium-term framework of priority QI regional actions. In 2020, these were endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers.

    The PQI Initiative sits under the ‘Deepening Forum Markets’ thematic area of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy 2020-2025 (PAfTS), and the ‘Resources and Economic Development’ and ‘Technology and Connectivity’ thematic area of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent Implementation Plan.

    "Tonga does not have the resources to build a National Quality Infrastructure system. The Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative  is the only possible and viable option for Tonga to have access to Quality Infrastructure institutions and services." 

    Distaquaine Tuihalamaka, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Tonga.

    QI comprises all services provided by public or private organisations, relevant legal and regulatory frameworks, and practices related to standardisation, metrology (the science of measurement), accreditation and conformity assessment (testing, certification and inspection), which are important to assure the quality, safety, and environmental soundness of products and services both for domestic consumers and export markets.

    Forum Members have limited access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services such as testing laboratories, which affects their economic competitiveness, the safety of their goods and services, and ultimately the quality of life of their citizens. From a trade perspective, if the quality of goods and services is low, businesses will struggle to access and compete in foreign markets. Further, without harmonised and internationally recognised QI, intra-regional trade might be impacted as countries create technical barriers to trade.

    The PQI Initiative was established to improve the quality of products and services manufactured in the Pacific, consumed locally, and exported to overseas markets, by promoting access to QI.

    The PQI Initiative represents the only viable option for QI in the Pacific. The size of Forum Members’ economies and populations does not justify the establishment of fully-fledged national QI services, like what exists in developed economies or even larger developing economies, as this requires considerable investment and ties up resources on a long-term basis. For this reason, the PQI Initiative is particularly beneficial to smaller Forum Members as it seeks to develop fit for purpose and sustainable QI.

    The PQI Initiative follows a strategic, demand-driven and participatory approach. It aims to address the most urgent QI related service needs in Forum Members, and is based on and guided by international best practices for QI, like the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement’s requirements.

    The Forum Secretariat’s PQI Unit coordinates the implementation of the PQI Initiative.
    The main outcome areas, include:

    • establishing a PQI governance system, with the Secretariat’s PQI Unit, national focal points, and regional QI committees for standardisation, metrology, and conformity assessment; 
    • building the technical capacity of the Pacific’s QI institutions and service providers; and
    • creating a regional quality culture, including – but not limited to – awareness on the significance of quality and QI. 

    Improving understanding
    The PQI Initiative organised trainings on the fundamental components of QI to position Forum Members to benefit from and contribute to the work.

    Building a tailored model of regional governance
    The PQI Initiative established the PQI governance structure, with the Secretariat’s PQI Unit, national QI focal points and regional QI committees. 

    The national QI focal points are the first point of contact on QI related matters in their countries, and members of the PQI Initiative’s steering committee and regional QI Committees.

    The regional QI Committees represent the heart of the regional QI architecture. Three Committees have been established:

    • the Pacific Islands Standards Committee (PISC);
    • the Pacific Islands Metrology Committee (PIMC); and 
    • the Pacific Islands Conformity Assessment Committee with a focus on Testing (PITC).

    The PISC is responsible for coordinating regional standards development. To date, it has set up two technical committees for ‘building & construction’ and ‘food & food products’. 

    The PIMC coordinates the regional development of metrology, with a focus on trade measurement and calibration services. 

    The PITC coordinates a regional approach to strengthening testing laboratories.

    Paving the way for stronger QI institutions and service providers
    The PQI Initiative undertook comprehensive needs assessments and value chain studies on priority commodities, and surveys (e.g., on metrology legislation) to assess the state of, and demand for, QI services in Forum Members. Using this information, the PQI Initiative provides targeted support to select QI service providers, such as national standards bodies and standardisation focal points, trade measurement entities, and testing and calibration laboratories. Support measures have included: virtual and hands-on training; consultancy visits by technical experts; pre-audits of laboratories; and procurement of equipment and consumables, including measuring instruments and measurement standards.