Quality Infrastructure (QI) includes standardisation, accreditation, conformity assessment (such as certification and testing services), and metrology. It is a prerequisite for the participation in international trade, product traceability, environmental and health protection, product compatibility, and supports consumer and supplier confidence in products. Expanding global trade, increasing economic integration, and growing awareness of quality issues on the part of consumers, trade participants and legislators are placing ever-increasing demands on the quality of goods, services and processes. Product quality is therefore a key competitive factor and an adequate QI to improve it is crucial for any modern economy. However, many developing countries and emerging economies do not have a functioning QI. Conformity assessment measures in QI include implementing certification, inspection and testing, advising industrial laboratories, and providing initial and continuing training for technical and laboratory staff. Quality management, at individual company level, but also within partner organisations, including chambers of trade and industry and patent authorities, the promotion of the introduction of quality management systems for process orientation and sustainable management is indispensable.
Benefits of a functioning QI and conformity assessment systems: –
- Create a vital basis for participation in international trade, the disassembling of non-tariff trade barriers, and access to international markets in the framework of the global harmonization processes of standards and norms.
- Provide an effective means of improving market transparency on both the supply and the demand side, boosting efficiency and driving down transaction costs, and facilitating product and service compatibility.
- Fulfill important protection functions for consumers and stakeholders in relation to the trade in goods, food quality, accident prevention, and consumer protection.
- Creates the precondition for improving the quality and environmental sustainability of industrial manufacturing processes and of products as well as for enhancing the resource efficiency.