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Crumbling Tariff Walls and a Renewed Stress on Quality

January 1, 1985 -

In the December 1984 issue of Canadian Business, Donald Coxe warns Canadian manufacturers to prepare for stiff competition when tariff protection is eliminated in 1987. But, writes Coxe, Canadian industrialists should view this tougher competition as an opportunity to improve quality. Many companies are already seeking the stamp of approval of the Quality Management Institute (QMI), which signifies the excellent quality of a company's products. QMI is an offshoot of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), a largely voluntary engineering group, which has established internationally recognized standards for many electrical, hydraulic and mechanical products. The CSA stamp means a product has been tested and approved for safety, but not necessarily for quality. The QMI therefore adds a dimension that will increasingly ensure that Canadian products can compete internationally on the basis of quality and not only on the basis of price.

The QMI is not a government agency, but entirely the result of industry initiative. Companies are not required to carry the QMI stamp, but according to Coxe, hundreds of companies have applied for the QMI seal of approval. It's one promising indication that Canadian manufacturers can still respond to a difficult challenge. Coxe writes: "As promising as QMI is, though, it's only part of the rethinking, rebuilding and refinancing that Canadian business needs as the world grows freer and more competitive. But such a large-scale, ongoing commitment to giving consumers real value is obviously a splendid affirmation of Canadian industry's fighting qualities."