Quality systems and standards for a competitive edge

During the last decade, economic growth in the fastest-growing developing countries, particularly China and India, has been accompanied by their rapid integration into world markets. This has created new opportunities for all countries but also new competitive pressures, and it has placed new demands on policies to support trade development.
As increased competition among developing countries in laborintensive manufactures erodes economic returns, higher-quality markets and high-value goods are increasingly important to maintaining dynamic competitive advantage. Globally integrated production networks, typically governed by buyers from developed nations, have raised competitiveness to the top of developing countries' policy agendas. Countries need to offer the high-quality products demanded by consumers and global supply chains and deliver them to markets to meet just-in-time production schedules.
Against all major competitiveness rankings, Latin America has lost ground. Growth has been mediocre, especially if compared with the growth of most Asian economies. This has led to lively policy debates about the path back to high growth, from which has emerged a growing consensus that better and more effective coordination between the public and private sectors is required - and that this needs to be complemented by institutional and microeconomic reforms. For Latin America, a new trade and competitiveness agenda has three key elements: (a) upgrading the value of traditional exports and diversifying exports away from primary products; (b) removing constraints to "speed-to-market" goods to fully exploit proximity to the United States and other markets; and (c) enhancing productivity growth to offset rising wages while boosting the development of technological capabilities and skills. But diversifying and upgrading exports - whether manufactured products within large supply chains or high-value food products - means developing quality and standards. It also means addressing weaknesses in logistic, financial and administrative support services. These are not easy tasks, and they present a major challenge both for policy makers in the region and for development partners.
This book responds to this challenge by providing a comprehensive account of quality systems for private sector development: what works on the ground and what doesn't, and why. It explains why quality and standards matter for export growth, productivity, industrial upgrading, and diffusion of innovation, all central ingredients in improving economic growth and generating real gains in poverty reduction. The book examines the diversity of institutions, linkages, and arrangements involved in quality systems, identifying success factors and obstacles in the quality strategies of particular countries. A portion of the volume is devoted to experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with a great deal at stake in the drive to improve quality. (One of the authors, J. Luis Guasch, is one of the World Bank's leading experts on private sector development in Latin America.) Policy makers in Latin America and throughout the developing world will find Quality Systems and Standards for a Competitive Edge to be a valuable tool for meeting the challenges of building trade competitiveness in the new global economy.




Developing countries, Growth, Quality systems, Standards, Trade

Additional information:

AuthorsGuasch, J. Luis (World Bank), Racine, Jean-Louis (ANGLE Technology Group), Sánchez, Isabel (World Bank), Diop, Makhtar (World Bank)
Publisher:World Bank
Keywords:Developing countries, Growth, Quality systems, Standards, Trade
Last update:2007