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Standards Partnership Programme launches to enhance international trade and boost market growth

26 September 2023

A partnership between the UK Government and BSI has been launched with the goal of enhancing trade and boosting sustainable and inclusive growth in developing economies through the use of international standards.

The Standards Partnership Programme, led by BSI in collaboration with the FDCO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office), will be delivered in 11 countries and island regions (Bangladesh, the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Pacific Islands, Rwanda and Uganda) and is designed to increase economic stability, supporting job creation and poverty reduction. As a secondary benefit, it aims to also open trade opportunities for international businesses, including from the UK.

This new programme builds on the success of the Standards Partnership Pilot delivered in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda last year by BSI, the UK National Standards Body and in partnership with other country NSBs. It also builds on the achievements of the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) programme, established in 2018, which has been awarded an extension for a third phase, as announced by Lord Ahmad, Minister for the Commonwealth, at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) in New York.

The Standards Partnership Programme is an integral part of the UK Government’s Centre of Expertise (CoE) for Economic Development and Trade, meeting the approach of using international standards as tools to support trade objectives and helping to build resilient supply chains. The UK Government has committed £3m of funding to this effort.

Scott Steedman, Director General, Standards, at BSI said: “BSI is delighted to be leading both these vital programmes, the Standards Partnership and the Commonwealth Standards Network. Together these have the potential to drive progress across society. Raising awareness and understanding of the value that comes from the use of international standards can bring benefits including helping to accelerate growth, attract inward investment and enhance trade.

“We look forward to continuing to partner with the FCDO and our Commonwealth members and other in-country stakeholders to strengthen economic stability and unlock future opportunities to benefit consumers, organizations and governments around the world.”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for the Commonwealth said: "The UK is committed to strengthening the Commonwealth, accelerating free trade and supporting democratic values across the globe.

"Today's announcement of £3 million will help increase the use of international standards in our trading relationships, not only for smaller countries, but for the benefit of all members of the Commonwealth family. This is a vital lever in boosting international trade across our thriving network."

Professor Alex Dodoo, President of the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) and Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), involved in the pilot, said:

 “The Standards Partnership pilot in Ghana has been pivotal to our continuing progress and so far, it has benefitted GSA tremendously helping build our capacity. Our visibility has also expanded, and we are now attracting the right type of partners for development and service delivery.

“This impact is just the beginning and we look forward to doing much more - using international standards to facilitate trade and support building a world class standards regime, that will transform our country and continent as we roll out the African single market.”

BSI will also be continuing its important work of promoting the development and use of international standards to reduce trade barriers, improve market access and attract investment throughout the Commonwealth, through the new phase of activity for the CSN.



Notes to editors:-

The Standards Partnership Programme aims to:

  • increase the use of international standards to foster innovation and increase trade
  • facilitate inclusive and sustainable growth of supply chains in the target economies
  • improve export potential, increasing the volume of products and services that meet international standards
  • enhance trade and investment opportunities, creating connections between countries (particularly National Standards Bodies and Ministries of Trade)
  • improve the business enabling environment and market competitiveness