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Government stakeholders chart path for export laboratory needs

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A dialogue to discuss and chart the way forward in addressing laboratory needs that are integral to the success of the country’s export and strategies to meet the growing demands of international trade was held in Honiara on 9 October 2023.

Top officials from various key government ministries and private sector representatives from the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) attended the meeting.

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The meeting assembled some of the nation’s most influential figures in government and industry, demonstrating their shared commitment to ensuring the country’s exports meet global standards and continue to thrive in international markets.

Discussions were centred on the pressing need to bolster laboratory infrastructure, certification processes, and quality assurance measures for export-oriented industries.

Policy Secretary-Productive Sector (PSPS) in the Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet (OPMC) Wilson Karamui Bugotu said this meeting followed a successive significant dialogue held between the Government and the private sector on September 18, 2023 with the issue of our export testing capability took centre stage.

“The resounding message that emerged from the discussion was crystal clear – the absence of a properly accredited laboratory would have a profoundly adverse impact on our ability to export.

“Exporting products often involves complying with various regulations, standards, and quality control measures imposed by both the country of origin (where the product is produced) and the destination country (where the product will be sold or used),” Mr Bugotu explained.

One of the key points of discussion was the imperative of maintaining and enhancing the nation’s export competitiveness.

“In an increasingly globalized economy, the quality and safety of products are paramount for success in international markets.

“The meeting highlighted the role of accredited laboratories in certifying products to meet the rigorous standards of various global markets. We do not have that level.

“Accredited laboratories play a critical role in assuring the quality, safety, and reliability of products intended for export.

“Ensuring that these laboratories are properly equipped, staffed, and accredited is essential to boost the confidence of international buyers and trading partners. The meeting highlights the importance of rigorous quality assurance protocols,” Mr Bugotu emphasized.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) Dr Chris Vehe argued that there must be a national coordinating role in Laboratory functions and an independent institution would be an ideal proposition.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) Dr Samson Viulu further highlighted that “the budgetary support to the functions of the Laboratory must be practicable as the laboratory must be able to support itself and serve its purpose accordingly – export is all about rural development and export cannot happen without adequate certification over the commodities anticipated for export.”

Both government and industry leaders expressed a resounding commitment to collaborating closely on this crucial endeavour.

They recognized that significant investments would be required to establish and maintain world-class laboratories that align with international best practices.

The meeting emphasized the importance of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to secure necessary funding and expertise.

The meeting reiterated the importance of aligning laboratory practices with international standards to ensure seamless access to international markets.

Mr Bugotu added that adherence to global norms is vital in safeguarding the reputation of the nation’s exports and preventing any potential trade barriers.

As a result of the meeting, a task force will be proposed to develop a comprehensive action plan. This plan will outline the steps needed to improve laboratory infrastructure, including funding mechanisms and a timeline for implementation.

Stakeholders expressed their commitment to expedite these efforts to bolster the nation’s export capabilities.

The meeting concluded with a unanimous commitment to advancing the nation’s laboratory capabilities, acknowledging that this is pivotal to the continued growth and success of exports.

The collaboration between government and industry leaders is seen as a promising sign of progress, with all parties focused on a shared vision for a stronger export future.

laboratories are essential for export purposes because they help ensure product quality, safety, and compliance with regulations, which are all critical factors in gaining access to international markets and maintaining a positive reputation as a reliable exporter.

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