Synthesis documents

Leveraging the Impact of Business Environment Reform: The Contribution of Quality Infrastructure. Lessons from Practice, DCED Working Paper, 2014/ updated 2015

    Note: This working paper was first published in 2014, and updated in 2015. It is complemented by a synthesis of lessons learnt and good practice recommendations in the DCED donor guidance hyperlinked at the bottom of this page.
    A healthy business environment can be essential for growth and poverty reduction and a prerequisite for trade and competitiveness.The Quality Infrastructure (QI) is an important element of the business environment: it provides the evidence that products meet market requirements and therefore has to be acceptable to the market and regulatory authorities – otherwise suppliers will not gain market acceptance or be able to participate in global value chains.

    It is important to understand that the QI, consisting of a number of institutions or service providers, can only function properly as a whole; the incompetence or absence of any one of the constituents will compromise the effectiveness and ultimately the efficiency of the whole system, thereby negatively impacting the business environment. The foundational parts of a QI are the standards, metrology and accreditation organisations/institutions without which none of the other elements will be able to function properly. Because of their importance, it is imperative that governments play an active and continuous role in the establishment and sustainability of these institutions. They provide services which oftentimes are not targeted at a specific beneficiary that could be made responsible for their financing.

    In addition to the foundational parts of the QI supported by governments, the QI also consists of a wide variety of calibration and conformity assessment service providers for which a specific beneficiary can be readily identified, who then should pay for such services in full. Hence, even though governments frequently establish these service providers, this is a ‘commercial’ domain where the private sector should play an ever increasing role. These include calibration laboratories, testing laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies for systems, services, products and persons.

    Although no definitive internationally accepted structure for the provision of QI services exists, good practices have evolved that donor agencies supporting the development of a country's quality infrastructure should consider. This document summarises such good practices, including in the following categories:
    - Good practices of Quality Infrastructure Development at National Level;
    - Good practices of Quality Infrastructure Development at Regional Level;
    - Good Practices in Delivering Quality Infrastructure Related Technical; Assistance; and
    - Priorities and Specialisation of Donors and Implementing Agencies

    Associated Activities and Documents
    »Supporting Business Environment Reforms: Practical Guidance for Development Agencies - Annex: Supporting Quality Infrastructure in Developing and Transitional Economies, DCED 2014