Australia and Singapore to strengthen Myanmar’s national standards body

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The FINANCIAL — Australia and Singapore combined forces to strengthen Myanmar’s capacity to participate in national and international standards development under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Institutional Strengthening (INS) Project for Myanmar. This was the first joint standards-related project by Australia and Singapore to build institutional capacity in a third country in collaboration with ISO.

Officials from Standards Australia, SPRING Singapore, and ISO Regional Office in Singapore conducted a training workshop from 21 to 27 April 2015 for a delegation from Myanmar. Delegates hailed from the Myanmar Department of Research and Innovation (DRI)1), the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Myanmar Engineer Society and Yangon University of Economics.

The workshop focused on the sharing of best practices by Singapore and Australia, including principles and procedures for the implementation of national and international standards development programmes. This was complemented by a site visit to the food and beverage retailer The Soup Spoon Pte Ltd, among other visits, to showcase how implementing International Standards ensures not only the safety but also the quality of its products and services. This has helped the company position itself competitively to access existing and new export markets and tap into growth opportunities, according to ISO.

As part of the workshop, a review was conducted to identify or validate the priority areas for Myanmar’s standardization programme. One of the key outcomes was for the Myanmese delegation to develop an action plan that will help the country better align its priorities and practices to support economic growth with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) Agreement and Good Standardization Practices.

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The goal is to enhance trade and economic benefits for Myanmar and the region by setting up business-friendly standardization infrastructure based on international systems so as to attract investments and ensure their products and services meet the requirements of international customers and export, as well as support entry into wider markets. This initiative will help Myanmar to better integrate with the region and the global markets.

“Businesses need certainty in a new environment and International Standards help to create that certainty,” said Dr. Bronwyn Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Standards Australia. “This ground-breaking project, the first of its kind between Singapore and Australia, aims to reduce barriers to trade and increase opportunities for two-way and regional trade and investment with Myanmar.”

Dr. Evans’ views were echoed by Ms. Choy Sauw Kook, Assistant Chief Executive (Quality & Excellence), SPRING Singapore. “This initiative supports the regional economic integration goals of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in creating a single market and production base that is fully integrated into the global economy through harmonization with International Standards. Singapore is confident that this joint project will help Myanmar better integrate with the region and global markets to support its economic growth and competitiveness, and thereby boost two-way trade and investment with Myanmar.”

Speaking from a global perspective, ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele added that the next steps after the workshop will be particularly important. “In line with ISO’s goal to increase the participation of developing countries in international standardization, the outcome of this programme provides a set of realistic yet ambitious recommendations for Myanmar to strengthen its national development programmes and participate actively in international standardization. We want to help Myanmar maximize opportunities through involvement in international standardization activities.”

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The joint project is funded and supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Government of Singapore, and ISO.


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