For too long ni-Vanuatu have focussed on the cheapest price, short cuts and quick fixes rather than focussing on quality and longevity which often costs a little bit more.

How many of us have heard our mothers and grandmothers talk about “ol samting blong bifo oli save stap long taem, be ol samting blong tedei, oli stap short time nomo oli nogud”. In fact, they were telling us about a time when manufacturing focussed on longevity and quality, that is, how long an item lasted before it broke down or deteriorated, rather than the bottom line.

The short lasting quality of solar products, electronic goods or the lack of adequate nutrition in certain canned goods and other imported foods of low quality, for the sake of convenience and social status, are experiences that we are familiar with.

These important points raised were delivered by the Director General of Trade, Tourism, Commerce, Ni-Vanuatu Business and Cooperative Developments, Roy Mickey Joy in his opening address to officially open and celebrate World Standards Day on October 14, 2019.

This year is a milestone for the Vanuatu Bureau of Standards since its inception on August 16, 2017 to join Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea as members of the International Standards Organization (ISO) in celebrating World Standard Day.

Director General Joy said as a member in the correspondent category within the ISO membership structure, Vanuatu will be able to contribute in any five technical committees for Standards of its choice.

“Vanuatu’s membership to ISO means that we have access to over 22,000 international standards that can be purchased in Vanuatu from the Vanuatu Bureau of Standards.”

He stressed that Vanuatu has one of the highest prevalence of NCD’s in the region, which is caused by poor quality food (eg. We are 6th in the world for Diabetes).

“Our beautiful islands are slowly becoming a dumping ground for cheap and poor quality products that have become a waste management nightmare, our beaches are not only made up of sand, but also microscopic pieces of plastic. Poor waste management have resulted in rubbish and other recyclable materials polluting our environment. Weak management systems in offices creates frustrated customers and little growth,” he said.

He said the new VTO marketing strategy of “answer the call”, will increase tourist numbers and Vanuatu must make sure that we sustainably manage our tourism products in such a way that we do not destroy the very thing that will bring in revenue.

What is the best way of solving the issues highlighted above, he questioned.

“The answer to this is, apart from praying, using international standards. International standards address shared challenges and the things that matter most, like health, safety, maintaining the environment and security,” said Director General Joy.

He explained that International standards allow a country to develop sustainably, grow businesses by improving performance and increasing profits whatever the size of the business, serving customers better, ensures food safety, efficient farming, reducing global emissions, transporting goods and people safely and efficiently, just to name a few.

He said International standards can be used as a tool to support trade agreements. In fact WTO members are strongly encouraged to base their non-tariff measures on international standards as a means of facilitating trade.

“We must align our national standards to international standards so that we can achieve the 14 UN Sustainable Development goals.

“Investing to improve quality always costs money but the return on investment outweighs the stress of poor efficiency, low quality products and services, poor health and insecurity.

“We have only just touched the tip of the iceberg in the world of Standards,”

“There is still a long way to go and there is much to do. It is my hope that the activities today will help you to understand a little bit more about Standards,” he concluded.

This year’s World Standards Day celebration was funded through the United Kingdom for International Development (DfID) under the Commonwealth Standards Network Project (CSN).

Speakers on the occasion include the British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Karen Bell; Manager of CSN based in London, Tumannesan Dolger, and Standards Development Expert, Charles Corrie who has assisted the Vanuatu Standards draft the standards and procedures of standards development.

Government stakeholders and private sectors were all invited to participate in the one-day event.

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