In the undercurrent of a genuine attempt to revitalize Belize’s National Export Strategy (NES) there is need to examine the integral elements for its success. One such element hinges on the need to embrace standards in all facets of production of goods and delivery of services. With the exception of traditional industries and sectors, the degree of use is questionable casting doubt on standards as an inherent and driving force of production. In all fairness, there is a growing recognition of its importance but for a developing country like Belize this is hardly enough to tip the scale in the backdrop of a fast changing global environment driven by science and technology. The reality simply put, is one which demands a change in culture, in approach, in planning to support the use of standards and other key elements in any attempt to compete under the banner of a successful national export strategy.
Markets are driven by the interoperability, performance, safety, reliability, durability and quality of products which are not static elements considering the advances in technology. Although these characteristics and attributes may appear as foreign they have become the norm and they are quintessential to standards and the standards development process across the globe so much so that the flow of trade depends on it. Standards have become then, particularly for small and developing economies, the ticket for entry into the trading environment. For large economies it may be a dreadful reality for huge corporations to miscue on standards as they may very well quite easily find themselves outpaced by the market. The options in this case are few, either they muster the strength to adopt, invest and innovate or enter into submission mode. For such markets, it can be a significant loss in income, employment and productivity. To draw a parallel between large and small economies faced with a similar challenge, the impact is dire given that small economies are much more fragile and vulnerable. The harsh reality is that recovery in such an instance is almost an impossibility. The mantle for a well thought out and engineered NES must then be to assure that the ultimate objective is not only to reach out to markets but to maintain them with full recognition of the need to tap to the beat of standardization.
In examination of the current trading environment there are non traditional products that have great potential, but in most cases, success depends heavily on entrepreneurial spirit, will, luck and gut. As such, not much can be expected to propel growth beyond the domestic market. At best drivers for economic growth in the shape of micro small and medium sized enterprises are fluttering the best way they know how with some guidance, given that there is much effort to provide the institutional setting with the right mix of policies to foster growth and development. Developing the strategy to facilitate export trade requires then a great need to promote the use of standards as an instrument for development. At the sametime entrepreneurs of all walks and of all ages must look to success with standards as the centerpiece for their development.
Article contributed by Bureau of Standards
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