Barriers in export – why Europe rejects us When Georgia starts issuing certificates conforming to international standards

Maka Ganiashvili

Our magazine has published several articles concerning metrology and standardization aspects.

It has been repeatedly emphasised that faultiness
of these two fields (it would be exact to say that they just do not exist) is a serious obstacle for the country’s economical development. The non-tariff barriers have become a problem of today, especially when talking about Georgian European Union relations and opening the European market for Georgia. However, all these issues are directly connected with metrology-standardization aspects. What’s going on today in this direction? Moreover, what are the future plans?
efore we discuss existing novelties of the field, allow me to start with short historical perspective. Famous Russian scientist Mendeleev implemented standardization, ever since Georgia was part of Russian empire. Mendeleev established Board of Weights and Measures in 1906. This was one of the first state institutions in this branch in Georgia. Thenadays, of course, little was done in this direction in the country. Notwithstanding, first in Northern Caucasus and then in Georgia the worked advanced and in 1926, the foundation for metrology and standardization was laid in Georgia. Metrology is a unity providing unity of weights and measures. Metrology measures everything: water, food, oil products, electricity, chemical composition, and time. First certification was developed on the basis of metrology and up to now, it represents major part of certification abroad.
From seventies of twentieth century Georgia was working by Soviet State Standard system. While, after nineties together with independence, Georgia tried to reform this system. Legislative basis is being created; in 1995-1996 was established “State Standard Independent Institution”. We became members of various international institutions. However, Georgia could not get rid of Soviet State Standards and there is nothing surprising in this. Moreover, before Russia-Georgia August war and closing of Russia-Georgia borders, metrological measuring units and equipment were delivered to Petersburg. Since such metrological institutions in former Soviet Union existed only in Moscow and Petersburg. Establishing new metrology and standard institution requires tens of millions and corresponding political will.

However, obviously country and its economy cannot progress without the abovementioned institution. Imperfect system of technical regulation and standardization has already considerably harmed Georgian business. Low quality and untested production appeared on the market that seriously damaged import-export. The reason is that after collapse of Soviet Union, according to the CIS agreement standards were recognized between the member countries automatically. Correspondingly, up to recent events, most portion of our export was oriented on CIS market. Western countries are acting according to international standards. Georgia is firmly heading to west and strikes for integration in western structures. Georgian products only dream of European market, not to say anything of European Union membership of Georgia. It’s true that there are lot of talking about the fact that Europe is easing tariff barriers for Georgia or it annuls them. European Union prolonged GSP+ for Georgia. Soon the negotiations will be started concerning free trade with Europe. However, all these are connected with tariff barriers. Non-tariff barriers are the main obstacle in entering any civilized market, including European one. These non-tariff barriers cannot be simplified and therefore we should seek solutions inside the country. Once again, we encountered the metrology-standardization and aspects of quality ensuring. What is done in Georgia in this field and are some active steps in this direction? Together with WTO membership, and signed agreements with various international organizations, Georgia has taken an obligation to establish civilized legislative base and institutions in this field.
Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia already has actively started to work in this direction. At the end of 2009, ISO 17020 international standard implementation is in the offing. In this respect, on 21-22 January, within the framework of quality infrastructure development project, Ministry of Economic Development has conducted a workshop. The workshop covered aspects of inspection organ accreditation according to international standards and its full compliance with them.
ISO represents world standards organization. Georgia became its member in 1998. The organization was founded in 23 February of 1947. It is a non-governmental, international organization. Head office is situated in Switzerland, Geneva. At the present time, organization unites 157 member states.
Minister of Economic Development of Georgia, Lasha Jvania believes that quality infrastructure development is a crucial step for the country.
“When talking about export growth, the considerable role is playing issuing of certificates relevant to international standards. In order to enter European market, it is essential to reach international quality standards of the products produced in our country. From this point of view, we need flexible and prompt mechanisms in order to assign certificates to the companies and increase competence in this field. European Union supports us in upgrading our qualification level. Various project are still in progress in this direction” – says Lasha Jvania.
Competence, impartiality, and independence are the three main principles, which are necessary when assigning accreditation in the relevant field. Accreditation is essential for recognition of inspection organs. Testing is the part of the inspection. There are two categories of testing – functional and analytical. Functional testing defines function of the commodity, while analytical testing measures the commodity. Analytical testing must meet the ISO 17020 standard.

Inspection is applied at all stages, starting from product (service process) projecting to its production and its consuming. Personnel inspection can be conducted either. The difference between certification and inspection is that inspection is based on professional evaluation. It can include project, production processes and personnel inspection. While certification is conducted only according to standards and in does not include professional assessment. Certification allows product to enter the market, while inspection defines whether the product preserves its consuming conditions during exploitation. There is supervision in case of inspection organs. Products in the exploitation are beyond certification.
General Director of the Accreditation Centre Paata Gogoladze said that purpose of the workshop is to enable relevance assessment by means of inspection. Besides that to establish international ISO Standard in this filed and support the development of quality infrastructure in Georgia. According to Gogoladze, at the end of this year, final implementation of ISO Standard is in the prospect. However, before implementing the mentioned standard, the accreditation centre personnel training is done through workshops, in order to gain more understanding of the standards and acquire knowledge.
“The implementation of these standards requires refining of the legislative base, therefore together with this we offer ISO standard to Georgian market. Until the end of this year, ISO standard inculcation is expected in Georgia. ISO standard can be used for inspection of various fields such as, objects bearing technical dangers (elevators, excavators), and sanitation inspection. We serve relevance assessment field, where in the course of three years we implemented and accomplished accreditation of such institutions as product and personnel certification organs, testing laboratories and calibration proving laboratories.
There are some new interesting directions for Georgian market. These are medical laboratory accreditation and inspecting organs’ accreditation. Inspection organs’ accreditation did not exist in Georgia up to now. Instead of this, state organs were conducting accreditation. International practice enables accreditation of some fields by private accredited institutions. Accreditation proves that a person is qualified enough to assess products, personnel processes, and system relevance” – declared Gogoladze.
Of course, this is only a drop in the bucket. However, this is one-step forward to the refinement and improvement of metrology-standardization field. Every business is done drop by drop. Moreover, changes and reforms in this direction are in progress. According to Ministry of Economic Development declares that within the framework of quality infrastructure development project, the workshops will be permanently conducted. The workshops will cover various institutions’ accreditation aspects. In the nearest future, Ministry is planning to hold the seminar on the subject of accreditation quality improvement in certification organs.