THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), though the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) and Philippine Accreditation Office (PAO), conducted a workshop on Voluntary Standardization and Certification last June 26 and 27 at Microtel Inn & Suites in Davao City as part of its implementation of the Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) Project 3.

The activity was aimed to stress to participating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and industry associations the importance of improving overall competitiveness for our local products and services to thrive in today's integrated world economy.

The discussions emphasized as well the vital role of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) as an entity to ensure efficient consumer protection in the country and access for our exports to global markets.

Through the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI), quality and safety tests that otherwise are not administered here in the Philippines will be made available and accessible to the local enterprises. These include high-end metrology tests for specific agro-industrial products that the Philippine laboratories and certification bodies may not yet have achieved accreditation for. At present, MSMEs wanting to quality for export markets have to bring samples of their products to other countries like Singapore for testing and certification.

DTI-Davao Region officer-in-charge Ma. Belenda Q. Ambi said Davao's MSMEs and exporters will clearly benefit from the establishment of an NQI.

"It will lead to the production of more innovative agro-industrial commodities that will be able to compete in the global markets and more so in the upcoming integrated ASEAN economy," she said.

TRTA 3 embodies the long-standing partnership between the Philippine Government and the European Union for promoting trade as key to poverty reduction and inclusive growth.

As one of the project components, the NQI serves to be the interconnected and harmonized strategy for standards, testing, certification, accreditation and metrology that is directed towards the integration of the Philippines' industries in world trade.

The NQI Platform is being organized through a convergence of National Government Agencies that also include the Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA), the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) together with private sector organizations.

The workshop was preceded by similar trainings held in Manila and Cebu. More capacity building exercises will be provided by the TRTA Project 3 to contribute to the Philippines' integration into the international and regional trading and investment system.