SAARC – A Successful Collaboration Draws to a Close
End of a twelve-year collaboration with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Closing workshop in Kathmandu, 11-12 October 2022
“Support to SAARC in strengthening regional integration and cooperation in the field of quality infrastructure” – it was under this title that PTB, representing the BMZ, has collaborated with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC since 2010. An economic community consisting of member states Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, SAARC was founded in 1985 with the goal of supporting the social and economic development of this region. The association is characterized by low intra-regional trade caused by technical barriers to trade, among other things. Such barriers to trade are due primarily to non-harmonized standards and conformity assessment procedures being used as well as to the fact that some structures for metrology, testing and accreditation are not yet fully developed – in short, not all elements of the quality infrastructure are at the same stage of development.
This collaboration has three main concepts in the areas of metrology and accreditation: “connect, capacitate and collaborate”. Here, specialist organizations in India such as the National Physical Laboratory India, NPLI are especially important network partner organizations; the expertise of these organizations is used to carry out training measures, comparison measurements and awareness-raising campaigns. The high demand for these activities and the positive feedback they have received supports the notion that the considerable heterogeneity of economic communities such as SAARC is not merely a challenge but also a potential: small countries can be actively supported in establishing and harmonizing their national quality systems.
Following a decision by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ to discontinue regional collaboration with SAARC, the twelve-year collaboration between PTB and SAARC will expire on 31 December 2022. Against this backdrop, a closing workshop was held on 11-12 Oct at the SAARC administrative headquarters in Kathmandu. The closing event was attended by many metrology institutes and accreditation bodies from the region, as well as representatives of ministries, the SAARC administration, the German embassy and PTB. The event provided a festive atmosphere in which to commemorate notable results obtained and lessons learned during the collaboration. At the same time, the workshop served as a forum in which topics and forms of regional collaboration following the conclusion of PTB’s involvement could be discussed. Several internationally recognized expert organizations from the region demonstrated their particularly strong resolve to continue the collaboration. Efforts to institutionalize network structures within SAARC where such structures to date have been supported by the project were strong signals to ensure that the project’s impact should be preserved in the long term.
Image Copyright: SAARC Secretariat