Bishkek, April 15, 2013 – Today, at a round table convened to mark the closure of the World Bank-supported Reducing Technical Barriers for Entrepreneurship and Trade Project, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic acknowledged the significant contribution made by the project towards entrepreneurship development in the country.
The Reducing Technical Barriers for Entrepreneurship and Trade (RTBET) Project was launched in 2007 by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Economy to support the Kyrgyz Republic's transition from a burdensome regulatory compliance system based on compulsory standards inherited from the Soviet era to a leaner WTO-based international standards system.
Current President Almazbek Atambayev, then Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, was directly involved in the preparation of the project that aimed to streamline the compulsory standards requirements for business, develop systems to enhance product quality and safety, and increase enterprise competitiveness in pilot sectors.
"I am delighted to note that I took part in the design of the project and, today, I have the chance to witness its achievements first hand," -- said President Atambayev in his address to the participants of the round table. -- "This project, supported by the World Bank, has provided significant support in reforming the system of technical regulations in the Kyrgyz Republic. For our country, implementation of such projects provides unique opportunities for enhanced economic development and competitiveness of the Kyrgyz Republic on international markets."
During its six years of implementation, the RTBET Project helped enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Economy and other agencies involved in the technical regulations reform; equipped the Kyrgyz Center for Standards and Metrology with state-of-the-art metrology laboratories capable of performing calibration and testing services with increased accuracy; and developed a modern domestic accreditation and quality certification infrastructure on its way to international recognition.
Specifically, the RTBET Project supported target institutions through tailored technical assistance aimed at building internal capacity. Approximately 200 public officials and technical specialists from various ministries and agencies were trained on the various aspects of technical regulations and MSTQ.
In addition, the Project brokered twinning arrangements with internationally recognized peer technical agencies such as the German Metrology Institute (PTB) and the Turkish Accreditation body (TurKak). These twinning arrangements led to the establishment of excellent cooperation between these institutions.
As noted at the round table by the Kyrgyz Minister of Economy Temirbek Sariev, technical regulations above all imply safety – such as in the case of food safety, for instance. “More than 70 types of entrepreneurship activities in the Kyrgyz Republic are subject to technical regulations. More and more businesses started to understand the importance of certification, and we at the government will support entrepreneurs in their efforts to produce high quality goods," --said Temirbek Sariev.
If, at project inception the Kyrgyz Republic was not represented in a systematic way in international and regional fora on metrology, standards and accreditation, today the international visibility and recognition of the Kyrgyz Republic as an active member of the WTO arena has greatly increased – and the RTBET project helped put the Kyrgyz Republic “on the map” in the Quality infrastructure area.
A total of 34 Technical Regulations are now in force in various sectors ranging from food and agricultural products to construction and transportation services while the list of products subject to mandatory certification continues to be streamlined. State of the art reference laboratories acquired under the project are now allowing the Kyrgyz Center for Standards and Metrology to provide higher precision measurement and calibration services to various users from public providers (e.g., health services) to private sector companies. The microbiology laboratory under the Ministry of Health is now also able to provide testing services in a wide range of fields ranging from food to environment quality based on the radiology and physics equipment procured under the Project.
The Kyrgyz Accreditation Center established under the Project has now entered the final stage of its graduation process to international recognition status by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), which is expected to announce its final decision on full membership of the Kyrgyz Accreditation Center shortly.
“After six years of intensive implementation, it is a great source of satisfaction to be able to observe all the tangible accomplishments of the RTBET Project in terms of a leaner business environment which is critical for entrepreneurship development, and increased accreditation, testing and calibration capabilities which form the building blocks of a modern quality infrastructure. I was also particularly happy to hear today the positives messages coming from the business community as this Project was first and foremost designed to support firm competitiveness and promote trade exchanges over time,” said the RTBET Project Task Team Leader, Sylvie Bossoutrot.
Summary of project achievements:
- 38 sector-specific technical regulations have been adopted and an additional 34 are at various stages of development. The new technical regulations helped significantly streamline the licensing and inspection regime for enterprises by eliminating outdated regulatory requirements that stemmed from old Soviet standards. Technical Regulations also constitute the legal basis for the risk-based inspection regime that is gradually being introduced in the Kyrgyz Republic.
- More than 46% of the national standards are now harmonized with international standards.
- The list of products subject to mandatory certification was reduced from 5,000 to 364 categories of products, thereby easing the former burdensome form-based versus risk-based certification and inspection requirements imposed on businesses for import, export as well as distribution of a wide range of products.
- 7 state-of-the-art metrology laboratories have been installed within the premises of the Center for Standard and Metrology (mass, temperature, pressure, length, time frequency, density and viscosity). The accuracy of temperature measurements increased threefold as a result.
- A state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory has been installed within the Ministry of Health to support the agribusiness industry, thereby increasing the quality and scope of services available to Kyrgyz companies to test their products.
- A fully functional WTO Enquiry Point was established within the Ministry of Economy to provide complete and updated information on the Kyrgyz domestic regulatory framework to prospective trade partners
The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty, promote economic growth, and encourage a better quality of life. 45 percent of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 55 percent is in highly concessional credits – no interest, and only a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 40 years, including a 10-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over US$ 1 billion, in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.