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GQII Report 2021: Tends, Comparision & Use of Data


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The GQII Index is a pioneer in measuring the development status and dynamics of QI worldwide. The GQII Report 2021 focuses on the presentation and interpretation of the data collected in the second half of 2021 and its comparison with the previous year’s values. The 2020 to 2021 data comparison is particularly relevant because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The 2021 GQII data shows that QI service provision and use continued to grow even after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report’s annexes contain examples of QI country profiles and a chronicle of important QI events in 2021.
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TITLE: Global Quality Infrastructure Index Report 2021. Trends, comparison, and use of data
AUTHORS: Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke, Juan José Oteiza Di Matteo and Mónica Muñoz
PLACE: Buenos Aires/ Argentina and Bad Homburg/ Germany, December 2022
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.27513.95842
ISSN 2748-4866
1 GQII Website
AB Accreditation body
AFRAC African Accreditation Cooperation
APAC Asia Pacic Accreditation Cooperation
ARAC Arab Accreditation Cooperation
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
BIPM International Bureau of Weights and Measures
BMZ Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and
Development (Germany)
BMWK Federal Ministry for Economy and Climate Action
CAB Conformity Assessment Body
CIPM International Committee for Weights and Measures
CMC Calibration and Measurement Capabilities
CROSQ CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards
and Quality
GQII Global Quality Infrastructure Index
IAAC Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation
IAF International Accreditation Forum
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
ILAC International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation
ISO International Organization for Standardization
INetQI International Network on Quality Infrastructure
ITC International Trade Centre
ITU International Telecommunication Union
KSC Key and Supplementary Comparisons
KCDB Key Comparison DataBase
MITI Ministry of Industry and International Trade (Malaysia)
MLA Multi-Lateral Recognition Arrangement (the term
used by the IAF)
MRA Mutual Recognition Arrangement (the term used
by BIPM and ILAC)
MS Management Standards
NAB National Accreditation Body
NQI National Quality Infrastructure
NQP National Quality Policy
NSB National Standards Body
OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and
OIML International Organization of Legal Metrology
QMS Quality Management System
QI4SD Quality Infrastructure for Sustainable Development
PTB Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
(German Federal Metrology Institute)
SDG Sustainable Development Goals
QI Quality Infrastructure
TC Technical Committee
UK United Kingdom
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
USA United States of America
WHO World Health Organization
WTO World Trade Organization
FURMAN, J. L.; HAYES, R. Catching up or standing still?: National innovative productivity among
‘follower’countries, 1978–1999. Research policy, 33, n. 9, p. 1329-1354, 2004.
HARMES-LIEDKTE, U. & MATTA, A. 2021. Cross-frontier accreditation. GQII Data & Analytics Paper, No. 2.
Duisburg/ Germany: Mesopartner.
HARMES-LIEDTKE, U. & OTEIZA DI MATEO, J. J. 2021. Global Quality Infrastructure Index - Report 2020.
GQII Data & Analytics Paper, No. 1, Duisburg/ Germany: Mesopartner.
HARTMANN, D.; GUEVARA, M. R.; JARA-FIGUEROA, C.; ARISTARÁN, M. et al. Linking economic
complexity, institutions, and income inequality. World Development, 93, p. 75-93, 2017.
HAUSMANN, R.; HIDALGO, C. A.; BUSTOS, S.; COSCIA, M. et al. The Atlas of Economic Complexity.
Mapping paths to prosperity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013.
MARSCHALL, P. Evidence-oriented approaches in development cooperation: experiences, potentials and
key issues. German Development Institute. Bonn. 2018.
SACHS, Jeffrey D.; KROLL, Christian; LAFORTUNE, Guillaume; FULLER, Grayson; WOELM, Finn
Sustainable Development Report 2021. The Decade of ASction for Sustainable Development Golals,
Cambridge, UK, 2021
- General trend 9
- The 2021 Ranking 9
- Changes from 2020 to 2021 14
- Correlations 17
- QI landscape by economies 22
- Analysis of correlations with other variables 24
- Traceability of QI data over time 25
- Display the origin of the accreditation 26
- Benchmarking with other countries 27
- Thematic analysis (impacts of COVID-19 on QI) 28
The authors of this study would like to thank the 107 accreditation bodies for sharing
their data on the conformity assessment bodies accredited by them (90) or validating
our count (17).
As a result, we signicantly improved the quality of the data collected for accreditation.
We would also like to thank the Regional Accreditation Cooperation’s, African
Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC), Asia Pacic Accreditation Cooperation (APAC)
and Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) for forwarding our request for
cooperation to their members; and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) for
sending the authors a detailed overview of the internationally recognised accredited
Annelien Cunningham, Anett Matbadal, Beatriz Paniagua, Christian Schoen, and
Manfred Kindler supported the authors in counting the accreditation data from the
accreditation bodys website. The study beneted from the expertise of Emiliano Waltos
in data extraction and processing.
We are grateful to all the colleagues who supported, advised, and commented on
draft versions during the different phases of the study. Our special thanks go to Andrea
Ulbrich, Emanuele Riva, Ferney Chaparro, Glenn Bosmans, Marion Scholz, Osman
Zacarias, Shanay Rob, Tobias Diergardt and Reinhard Weissinger.
We are proud to collaborate with the Technical University of Berlin and the Chair of
Innovation Economics of Prof. Knut Blind, on whose website the GQII has been
Through this cooperation, the GQII Index gains scientic backing, strengthening its use
in academia and application.
Finally, we thank the Executive Director of the Organismo National de Acreditación de
Colombia (ONAC), Alejandro Giraldo, for his support in translating the GQII publications
into Spanish and in disseminating the results via the website and the webinars “Charlas
con Ulrich”.
The preparation of the Global Quality Infrastructure Index Report 2021
was possible due to the pro bono support of quality infrastructure
professionals worldwide and the nancial support of the Physikalisch-
Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the German Federal Ministry for
Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
We buy things daily - to eat, to keep ourselves warm, to wear, to entertain ourselves, to move around, and to show
affection for our loved ones. We make these purchases without realising the long journey these goods (or services)
endure before reaching our hands – the number of tests and inspections they must pass, the certications they require,
and the number of commercial exchanges that need to take place.
This is all possible thanks to, among other things, the Quality Infrastructure (QI), which plays an essential role in each
leg of the journey. According to the denitions found in various circles, including the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), QI is understood as a reference
framework for dening and developing rules to demonstrate and guarantee the quality of products and services on
the market. It is the institutional reference framework for any form of economic integration.
It is, therefore, important for policymakers and markets to increase their understanding of QI and periodically measure
its diffusion and trends. This research, based on data and expert opinion, as well as the contribution of research
centres and universities in this latest edition, has a robust scientic depth.
In summary, this research tells us:
// The 2021 Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII) indicators show widespread improvement compared to 2020,
thus signalling an improvement in QI globally;
// The development of QI has been much more signicant in advanced countries, thereby increasing the gap in QI
development levels between them and their developing counterparts;
// This update of the GQII 2021 composite indicator shows few changes in the highest positions of the ranking
table. Meanwhile, countries in the middle experience more signicant upward or downward shifts. This is
probably due to the methodological changes in the calculation and the different quality and availability of data
from one year to the next. Data quality and availability are still a challenge, but I believe that in the future, the
data generated by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) CertSearch (the global database of management
systems certications managed by the IAF) could strengthen the database of the GQII; and
// There is an exciting relationship between the GQII 2021 and some macroeconomic indicators. In particular, the
positive correlation between the GQII 2021 and the Sustainable Development Goals Index (SDG Index) is of
interest: countries with the most advanced QI systems are associated with higher levels of sustainable
In conclusion, every nation should approach this index strategically and work towards improving its position in the
ranking because the GQII’s correlation with economic development and its relevance for creating a sustainable future
is evident.
Chair of the International Network on Quality Infrastructure (INetQI) and
Chair of the International Accreditation Forum, Inc. (IAF)
Why is it important to compare with the Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII)?
Professor for Innovation Economics at the Technical University Berlin and Head of the
Business Unit Innovation and Regulation of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and
Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe/ Germany
The Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII) is an important tool to measure and compare quality infrastructure (QI)
development worldwide. The compilation and publication of data from metrology, standardization, accreditation,
and conformity assessment institutions enable the scientic study of QI as a system and highlight its importance for
economic development, innovation, and the competitiveness of countries.
The Chair of Innovation Economics at the Technical University of Berlin sees itself as a centre for research on QI and its
impact. In this regard, we support the GQII programme and publish the index on our website.1 Under the leadership
of our guest researcher and creator of the GQII, Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke, the Chair supports the further development
of the index and QI research based on GQII data.
QI has only recently started attracting the attention of both policymakers and researchers. Only last month, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its review of Germany’s Innovation
Policy. An entire chapter was devoted to QI and its role in innovation. In the review, the OECD stated that “Germany
has one of the world’s most advanced and well-respected quality and certication systems (or “quality infrastructure”),
which has supported international competitiveness” (OECD, 2022, p. 36). This is in line with the ndings of the GQII,
which has positioned Germany at the top of the ranking for the last two years. In the review, the OECD highlights
Germany’s strong position in standardization. This has allowed Germany to assume the role of a “rule maker” rather
than just a “rule taker”, which is crucial for its leading role in innovation and international competitiveness in many
However, Germany’s leading role in innovation and trade is being threatened by the increasing lack of leadership in the
international standardization of key technologies, mostly in realm of digitalisation. Therefore, the OECD recommends
that the German government digitalise its QI to secure its leading position in standard-setting. In the same vein, both
insights from the German Standardization Panel and a QI-FoKuS survey revealed signicant room for improvement
related to digital standards and the digitalisation of German conformity assessment bodies. The OECD proposes to
look at QI more strategically, as the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is currently
implementing in the context of the National Strategy for Hydrogen Economy.
Although Germany is positioned at the top of the GQII, there is still room for improving and modernising its QI,
especially concerning digitalisation.
Blind, K. & Heß, P. 2018. Digitale Normen. Berlin: Deutsches Normungspanel, Technische Universität Berlin im Auftrag von DIN und DKE.
KOCH, C., LADU, L., ASNA ASHARI, P., BLIND, K. & CASTKA, P. 2022. Digitalization in conformity assessment in Germany - A QI-FoKuS study. Berlin:
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM).
OECD. (2022). OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Germany 2022: Building Agility for Successful Transitions. OECD.
Due to the growing importance of QI worldwide,
stakeholders inside and outside the QI ecosystem
are becoming more interested in reliable data and
information on their development status. This interest
goes hand in hand with the increasing digitalisation of the
economy and society, which QI institutions must consider.
The GQII Index is a pioneer in measuring the
development status and dynamics of QI worldwide. The
team of authors has been working on the measurability
of national quality systems for over a decade. In close
coordination with representatives and experts from QI
bodies, key indicators were identied, the data collected,
and a composite index was validated.
The GQII Report 2021 builds on the experience of
previous studies and the GQII Report 2020 (Harmes-
Liedtke/ Oteiza 2021). It focuses on the presentation
and interpretation of the data collected in the second
half of 2021 and its comparison with the previous year’s
values. Interested readers can nd the background and
methodological principles of the GQII explained in detail
in the GQII Report 2020.
The 2020 to 2021 data comparison is particularly relevant
because of the COVID-19 outbreak. On 11 March
2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) ofcially
declared the disease a global pandemic. In the months
that followed, people around the globe were affected,
with massive impacts on the economy and society. QI
institutions were challenged to expand their services,
especially in the health sector. Standards organisations
temporarily released standards for masks and ventilators.
The development and production of vaccines created
a surge in demand for conformity assessment services.
Due to mobility constraints, remote audits, and digital
communication, such as virtual standards committee
meetings, received a signicant boost. In contrast, some
companies could not maintain their certications, and
the use of some laboratory services decreased during the
economic crisis.
The 2021 GQII data shows that QI service provision and use
continued to grow even after the onset of the COVID-19
pandemic. This trend holds, albeit varying degrees, for all
QI components and GQII indicators. However, comparing
countries 2 and country groups shows that QI has grown
Quality infrastructure (QI) is the technical backbone for international trade, with metrology,
standardization, accreditation and conformity assessment services providing reliability and trust
between trading partners. In addition, QI services are increasingly relevant for the health sector
and sustainable development.
2 In this report, we often use the terms “country” and “economy” as synonyms. If we understand the term country to refer to sovereign states or member
states of the United Nations, this applies to most of the countries in the ranking. Exceptions are “countries” such as the Palestinian Territories or Kosovo,
but also Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan, whose statehood is not generally recognised.
much more strongly in high-income economies than in
emerging and developing countries. Despite intensive
efforts of international development cooperation in
QI, the disparity has widened further. QI in developing
countries can be described as trailing behind the leader
(FURMAN; HAYES, 2004) . This means that despite their
investments in QI, many countries need help to catch up
with the leading nations.
In the GQII ranking of economies, we generally observe
only minor changes between 2020 and 2021 in the top
part of the table. In fact, among the top 25, there are only
drops by up to 3 positions (Australia, Canada, Hungary)
and advances in the ranking by up to 5 (Switzerland and
Turkey). Germany led the order, followed by China and
the United States of America (USA). At the same time, the
United Kingdom (UK) and Japan still occupy the fourth
and fth positions, respectively. This is in line with the
expectation that building a QI system is a lengthy process
that has spanned many decades in the leading countries.
There were signicant changes in the middle and end of
the ranking table. The jumps often resulted from relatively
minor differences between countries in the mideld and
at the bottom of the order.
As the GQII allows for the rst annual comparison in
2021, the changes in rank should be viewed with caution.
Undoubtedly, much of the data represent fundamental
changes in the development of the QI components,
which can be validated in detail by analysing the data
underlying the index. However, there are also weaknesses
in the data sources that can only be identied and
eliminated with more extended time series. Examples of
this are the further participation of the certication bodies
in the International Organization for Standardization
(ISO) Survey (see technical notes of ISO Survey) or the
lack of validation of the data by individual accreditation
bodies. Finally, we must mention that there have been
improvements to the formula, making it more demanding
when recognising QI capabilities. The changes impact
two of the three QI areas.
We now incorporate economies’ participation in the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical
Committees (TC) in Standards. In Accreditation, we have
weighted the count of conformity assessment bodies
(CABs) based on the recognition that every National
Accreditation Body (NAB) has in the International
Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and
International Accreditation Forum (IAF) for each scope.
We have also tightened the criteria for calculating CAB
coverage (we only look at bodies accredited by national
authorities this time). Finally, we decided to recognise no
longer the membership status of the Accreditation Body
(AB) of origin when a country accredits conformity bodies
certied only abroad. This is penalising countries without
an AB.
The impact of the formula changes on the table is
slightly distorted. Incorporating participation in IEC
technical committees generates a zero shift in the top 50
economies, while the next 50 move up four positions on
average. The rest of Table 1 falls ve places on average.
No cases of extreme movements were observed. Only
Macao and Venezuela fell by more than ten positions.
The recalculation of the coverage of conformity
assessment bodies (CABs coverage) affects only a
quarter of the cases, leaving the value of this component
unchanged for the rest of the economies. On average,
the countries affected lose one scope of the 17 surveyed
by the indicator, equivalent to 6 percentage points.
As mentioned above, the impact of not recognising the
membership status of the AB of origin in cases of cross-
border accreditation mainly affects small economies
without their own NABs.
Finally, the weighted count of conformity assessment
bodies in calibration, testing, management systems,
and product certication punishes economies without
international recognition of their NABs through ILAC and
IAF Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA).
If we apply the prior formula to the data collected in 2021
and compare both rankings, we see that only 10% of the
economies have changed their position by more than ten
places. The top 25 does not show net changes in part;
that is, movements in both directions are netted, and in
no case greater than six places—the more developed the
economy in terms of QI, the less the impact of the new
algorithm. From position 26 to 100, more countries gain
positions, while net decreases are observed in the rest of
the table.
The progressive deterioration of the positions is
consistent with the fact that the formula punishes the
less developed in terms of QI. This helps us to better
discriminate in an area of the table where the scores are
very similar, and slight differences generate signicant
distances in the ranking. Our decision not to make further
changes to the GQII formula allows us to compare the
data over time.
As in the edition GQII2020, this report includes
comparisons of the GQII with other development
indicators. The strong correlation between countries’ QI
development and export activities is conrmed again.
Similar holds, albeit less strongly, for the correlation
between the GQII and economic complexity. QI remains
an essential element of a country’s trade performance
and competitiveness. New to this report is an analysis of
the relationship between the GQII with the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG) Index. Here, too, we nd a
strong correlation between countries’ QI development
status and the achievement of their SDG targets.
A particular focus of this report is the use of GQII data,
including the ranking itself, as well as the indicators on
which it is based and the extensive database behind it.
In Chapter 4 The authors share examples of how GQII
data has been used in various projects to promote QI and
develop quality policies.
The projects draw on experiences from four continents
and different funders, including the Federal Ministry for
Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the
Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union,
the International Trade Centre, the World Bank and the
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). These
examples are intended to help readers use the GQII
as an information base for their studies and country
The report’s annexes contain examples of QI country
proles and a chronicle of important QI events in 2021.
This chronicle is intended to highlight the connection
between quantitative and qualitative data.
3.1 General trends
The GQII data shows progress in QI development worldwide between 2020 and 2021. This is presented in Figure 1
.In the eld of metrology, there were increases in the number of calibration and measurement capabilities (CMCs) by
1.6%, Key and Supplementary Comparisons (K&SCs) by 6.6%, and accredited calibration laboratories by 12.2%. In
the eld of standardization, the number of members from different economies participating in ISO TCs increased by
1.9%, and the number of organisations certied with ISO Management Standards (MS) grew by 17.4%. With respect
to participation in IEC TCs, we have determined 5576 participants for this year for the rst time and therefore have
no information on the development. In accreditation there were increases in the numbers of accredited testing
laboratories by 6.9%, product certication bodies by 14.9%, management system certication bodies by 28.0%, and
accredited medical laboratories by 38.9%. The authors interpret the latter as an indication of the greater importance
of conformity assessment in the health sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3.2 The 2021 Ranking
The GQII ranks 184 countries according to the relative development of their QI. A formula calculates a score for each
country based on its position in the sub-rankings for metrology, standards and accreditation. The 2021 GQII ranking is
presented in Table 1 and illustrated in Figure 2 below.
QI Evolution by Areas
QI Areas 2020 2021
CMCs 25.536 25.944
Key&Suppl. Comp. 11.883 12.671
CABs - Calibration Labs* 10.828 12.149
IEC Tech. Comm. n.d. 5.576
ISO Tech. Comm. 21.540 21.960
ISO MS Certication 1.345.381 1.578.961
CABs - Testing Labs* 53.432 57.111
CABs - Product Certication* 3.574 4.105
CABs - MS Certication* 2.329 2.980
CABs - Medical Labs 2.329 10.412
Figure 1: QI development from 2020 to 2021
Figure 2: Overview of QI development worldwide according to the 2021 GQII
A country that ranks rst in all areas would score 1. In
the GQII 2021, the top-ranked country (Germany) scored
0.9958, while the lowest-ranked country (Timor-Leste)
scored 0.1190. The composition of the top 25 countries in
QI development is virtually unchanged from the previous
edition, with 24 countries in the 2020 Top 25 Group
remaining in the 2021 Top 25 Group. The new entrant
to the top 25 is Finland (25th), displacing the Russian
Federation from 24th to 31st. Geographically, the top 25
are mainly located in Europe, North America, and Asia-
Pacic, with some exceptions, such as India (10th), Brazil
(13th), Australia (14th), Turkey (16th), Mexico (18th) and
South Africa (20th).
In contrast, less economically advantaged parts of
the world, which include many emerging countries
and small economies, remain in the middle and lower
parts of the table, repeating the patterns observed in
2020. Movements within this group, however, are very
signicant in 2021, with large shifts in positions from the
previous year.
There are various reasons for a country to move up or
down in the ranking. Firstly, it responds to absolute
improvements or losses in the development of QI,
a phenomenon captured through the index’s three
components. Secondly, given that the ranking is an
ordering of countries based on the score they obtain,
a country may, for example, gain relative positions if its
“neighbours” in the table do worse that year, without
this implying an improvement in absolute terms of the QI
of the country that has advanced in the ranking. Finally,
given the nature of data collection on accreditation,
there is a possibility that some data may be inaccurate.
As mentioned above, this problem was mitigated by
validating all collected data against their ofcial sources,
achieving coverage of just under 70% of the total number
of CABs counted.
If the 2021 GQII ranking is examined by QI component,
in metrology, the rst three places are occupied by the
USA (1st), Germany (2nd), and China (3rd). China leads
the standardization ranking (1st), followed by Germany
(2nd) and Japan (3rd). In accreditation, the podium this
year goes to Germany (1st), followed by the USA (2nd)
and China (3rd). It is worth noting that the rst three
economies in the 2021 GQII ranking (1st Germany, 2nd
China and 3rd United States) are in the top 8 in each area
measured by the index.
Quality Infrastructure World Overview: GQII 2021 over 184 economies
Table 1: 2021 GQII ranking table
3.3 Changes from 2020 to 2021
The authors assume that the state of QI in a country change slowly. Creating new quality services and gaining
international recognition usually requires several years of continuous commitment and funding.
Since the compilation of time series data on QI development is only at its beginning and the data quality still has
shortcomings, changes between 2020 and 2021 should be treated with caution. Where the authors are aware of
changes in data collection, they make these transparent. For other changes, the plausibility was checked through
selective expert interviews.
The comparison of the years 2020/ 2021 showed the following changes.
An overall view of the scores achieved by the 184 economies shows a general decline in their scores. Only six countries
have escaped this trend (Montenegro, Estonia, Turkey, France, Germany and China). This is explained by the fact that
the GQII has become more demanding in measuring development in standardization and accreditation. Indeed, we
now consider participation in IEC TCs. We also weigh the CAB count according to each NAB’s recognition in ILAC and
IAF Multi-Lateral Recognition Arrangements (MLAs)/MRAs. Also, small economies lacking NABs have been penalised
through the CABs coverage and accreditation membership status terms.
The above effect is noticeable if we compare 2020 versus 2021 world maps, as seen in Figure 3 .
Figure 3: 2020 versus 2021 GQII world map comparison
Now we see more orange areas (lower GQII scores) and less intense blue areas (higher GQII scores). In principle,
this can be understood as a simple change of scale that affects almost all economies. However, a closer look at the
distribution of the 2021 scores of the indicator reveals that the fall is more intense in the middle and lower parts of the
table, implying that the distance between the leading economies in terms of QI and the group of followers is more
signicant in 2021 than in 2020.
Comparing the distribution of QI scores, as illustrated in Figure 4 , the dispersion increases and the median decreases
from 2020 to 2021. In other words, the scores of advanced economies have increased relative to those of less developed
Figure 4: Distribution 2020 vs 2021 GQII scores
Figure 5: Changes in the positions of the top 50 countries from 2020 to 2021 according to GQII data
This phenomenon can be partially explained
by the change in the formula, which, as already
mentioned, mainly affects less developed
countries. This change in the distribution of
scores does not necessarily mean changes in
the relative order of economies but reects
more realistically the current state of QI
Of the 184 economies included in the GQII 2021
report, 122 have barely changed their ranking
from the previous year, i.e. their position has
changed by ten or fewer positions.
As seen in Table 2 , the biggest advancers in the ranking include Montenegro, Moldova, Estonia, Guinea-Bissau,
Mozambique, Latvia, and Nepal, among others. They climbed several positions driven by signicant improvements in
specic components of the indicator. For example, Montenegro moved up 38 places in the ranking. The increase in
ISO MS certicates stands out, with a variation of 78%. The count of all CABs considered in the formula also improved,
positively impacting their coverage (from 31% in 2020 to 59% in 2021).
A similar analysis can be run for other big winners, such as Nepal. With much more modest improvements than
Montenegro. Nepal has increased the number of ISO MS Certicates (from 137 in 2020 to 143 in 2021); it also maintained
its CAB coverage even though we now only recognise domestic CABs for this component, and it even declared new
conformity assessment bodies in the areas of MS and Product Certication. This partially explains why Nepal managed
to move up 22 positions in the global ranking.
Higher dispersion and lower Scores in 2021:
Regressive Distribution of QI Scores
Table 2: Biggest winners in 2021
Table 3: Drivers of upgrading by more than 10 positions in the 2021
global ranking
The main driver behind countries advancing by more than
ten positions in the global ranking is the number of CABs
in the following areas: testing laboratories, calibration
laboratories, management systems certication and
product certication. This is presented in Table 3 . There
have been notable improvements in the last two areas
compared to 2020.
These countries also stand out for having increased or
maintained their ISO MS Certicates, improved their
participation in ISO TCs, and achieved a higher status
in their ISO membership. In summary, the areas of
accreditation and standards have been, on average, the
most prominent promoters of upgrades within this group,
although they also showed improvements in metrology.
On the opposite side, as seen in Table 4 , certain
economies have shown signicant drops in the ranking,
which can be explained by the changes to some variables
behind the indicator. For example, Zimbabwe, the most
extreme case, shows sharp declines in metrology and
standards. The coverage of CMCs went from 22% to 0%,
along with reductions in the number of comparisons and
calibration laboratories.
The number of ISO MS Certicates also dropped,
averaging 89%. Small economies, such as Suriname, have
paid dearly for the decline in specic components of
the indicator. The numbers show that the CAB coverage
component fell from 19% to 0%. Despite increasing its
ISO MS certicates by 63%, Suriname still dropped
28 positions in the table. This country has also shown
no improvement in membership status in any of the
international bodies we surveyed (ISO, IEC, ILAC, IAF, the
International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM),
and other regional bodies).
Table 4: Biggest drops in global ranking based on the GQII for 2021
Table 5: Drivers of declines in global ranking in GQII 2021
In general, economies that have fallen by more than 10 positions in the ranking show signicant declines in the number
of calibration and testing laboratories. The rest of the components show mixed results, with slight decreases or increases.
In any case, it must be said that this is a group of 25 economies, representing tiny portions of the total number of
CABs, comparisons, committee participation, ISO MS certicates, and low coverage in relative terms of both CMCs and
accreditation scopes. On average, this has meant a drop of 16 positions. This is summarized in Table 5 .
3.4 Correlations
The link between international trade and QI is well established. Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and the
WTO explicitly refer to the mutual recognition of accredited conformity assessment services. The CMCs declared and
recognised by each country, and the adoption of international standards are essential for exporting and importing
activities worldwide. In this edition of the GQII, we again see a strong positive correlation between the value of exports
of goods and services and the degree of QI development, reaching a coefcient of 88%. This is illustrated in Figure 6 .
The idea that economies develop QI around their export capacity is again supported by the data collected in 2021.
China, the USA and Germany lead the ranking of exporters (2020) and the GQII 2021. Hong Kong’s economy stands
out for a very high number of exports (8th out of 184) but only reaches the 69th position in the GQII 2021, with the area
of standardization being the lowest of the three (130th out of 184). The fact that Hong Kong is a city-state and part of
the People’s Republic of China may play a role here.
Figure 6: Correlation between the GQII and exports
The Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of a country refers to the knowledge intensity included in producing exported
goods. This indicator predicts economic growth (HAUSMANN; HIDALGO; BUSTOS; COSCIA et al., 2013) and explains
variations in income inequality (HARTMANN; GUEVARA; JARA-FIGUEROA; ARISTARÁN et al., 2017). As in the previous
edition, a high correlation between GQII and ECI is observed, reaching 80% this year. This is illustrated in Figure 7. It
is easy to link both indicators through trade and export activity.
Japan, Singapore, and Israel are strong in exports and knowledge, and their QI has highly developed QI. In contrast,
Australia, Ecuador, and Nigeria have similar QI values, but their economies are less complex (being exporters of
natural resources).
But beyond these cases, it is exciting how knowledge incorporated into the production of tradable goods is strongly
associated with the development of QI. Expertise and quality seem to go hand in hand. However, it is still being
determined which is the underlying driver (perhaps the economy?), and which should manifest itself rst in its ability
to drive the other. Future editions of the GQII could enrich the panel data and enable probabilistic causality tests to
determine the order of the factors.
Figure 7: Correlation between the ECI and the GQII 2021
Figure 8: Correlation between the GQII 2021 and the SDG Index
This year we are considering a new indicator to cross-reference with the GQII - the SDG Index (SACHS, 2021). SDG
Index is the rst worldwide study to assess where each country stands about achieving the SDGs. The SDGs were
adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2015 with a target of realising them by 2030. The 17 pillars of
the indicator revolve around transformations needed in Society, the Economy, and Environment to achieve the 2030
Agenda. The SDG Index considers several indicators related to education, health and well-being, clean energy and
industry, land and sustainable cities, and digital technologies.
The correlation between the SDG Index and the GQII is favourable and relatively strong, with a value of 74% for the set
of countries covered by both indicators. Health, energy, and care for natural resources and people are just a few areas
of the SDGs with a clear correlation with QI. In general, the economies that have progressed towards meeting the
SDGs tend to be more developed in terms of QI, without this representing any causal relationship. The graph shows
that despite being in the top half of the QI table, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria lag relatively far behind in meeting the
For a detailed analysis, the GQII database offers additional
information, e.g., on the different accreditation scopes.
Methodological changes:
// Data sources
- IEC membership data
- For standardization and metrology, we use
original data published by the international
technical organisation and time cut (no historical
trace, e.g., technical committee).
- Data-centric: Flow of data, best practice data
// Data collection and validation
- In the second half of the year 2021
- All ABs had the opportunity to send their data
or could validate the count of the research team.
- Cross-border unique data by GQII, weighted
by scope recognition
- Data cleaning and curation
The informative value of the GQII depends mainly on the quality of the underlying data.
GQII data is based on publicly available data by organisations for metrology, standards, and
accreditation. In the 2020 GQII report, we went into detail about the data sources of the GQII. To
avoid repetition, in this report, the authors focus on innovations in data collection and aspects
of data comparison.
The ranking is based on a formula of 14 indicators, which are in turn fed by 8.600 data points. The formula is presented
in Equation (1). In our experience, the number of 14 indicators is sufcient to assess a nation’s QI development level
and allow for international comparisons.
// Data analysis
- Comparison of 2020 data with 2021 data to identify
- Data-centric: Flow of data, best practice data
// Data access sharing
- Online data presentation and access
- Self-service or support by GQII experts
The renewed data collection allowed the authors
to improve the data quality further. This applies to
the collection of gures on accredited conformity
assessment bodies, which were reported by 82 out of
135 accreditation bodies. This explains that 68% of all
collected accreditation data on IEC standards were also
included in the calculations. Otherwise, the formula of
the GQII ranking remained unchanged, so an annual
comparison was easily possible.
Data collection and quality
Use of the GQII Data
5.1 QI landscape by economies
Proles by country and dashboards are applications
that have proven particularly useful for key actors in
developing national quality systems or their constituent
bodies. An example can be seen in Figure 9.
Using the data collected by the GQII as a basis, each
prole issues general information on the QI components
analysed by the GQII, providing a comprehensive view of
the economy and the state of evolution of the national
quality system. They are also helpful for comparison over
time and with other economies.
They are usually published as part of the annual report of
the index, allowing a valuable overview of the country’s
QI. Thus, the prole will present data such as position in
the ranking, position disaggregated by component, and
values observed by part, among others.
Furthermore, country proles can be commissioned by
interested entities or persons, which helps to refund the
effort of the authors to prepare the GQII. For example,
for developing National Quality Policies (NQPs), country
proles may include data on the institutional environment
or even more detailed descriptions for each component,
to name a few possibilities.
The results of the GQII serve a variety of organisations in both the public and private sectors
around the world. In this section, the authors demonstrate a range of applications that can serve
multiple purposes for users of the index and its underlying data.
Figure 9 shows how the prole is represented. In this case
the country prole was conducted by the authors as a
diagnostic tool useful in developing an NQP for Kenya.
Other examples can be found in the annexes of the GQII
2020 and this report.
Figure 10 shows an example of a dashboard developed
to support the development of Sri Lanka’s NQP, which
was developed in a project for The World Bank. This
solution promotes data-driven decision-making, which is
especially relevant for outlining strategic plans.
Dashboards can include information collected in the GQII
and expand on data from the country, combining data
and showing specic gures to meet the interest of the
requesting agency.
The Sri Lankan case focuses on promoting international
trade. This provides an example of how QI data for a
country can be expanded and combined to make it more
readily available to meet the needs of both QI bodies
and governmental and regional development support
Figure 9: 2020 GQII Country Prole for Kenya
Figure 11: Correlation between the 2021 GQII and exports
5.2 Analysis of correlations with other variables
One of the objectives of the GQII is to provide evidence-
based data that not only allows the authors to know
the current state of QI in the world, but also facilitates
its exploitation to promote transparency and analysis
that contribute to the evolution of QI as an ally for
international trade and economic, social, and sustainable
In the GQII reports, updated data is analysed each year,
and relevant correlations are included, such as the one in
Figure 11, showing the rank in the GQII and its relationship
with the volume of exports of goods and services.
Figure 10: Overview of Sri Lanka’s QI
Figure 12: Comparison between net QI budg-et and GQII 2020
The correlations of the GQII ranking with other
comparable variables and indices for other elds is a
highly relevant application for public policymakers,
researchers and a variety of actors interested in the
promotion and development of QI, as it supports an
essential hypothesis that states that the higher the level
of QI development, the better the performance of other
related variables, without this implying causality.
Another example of applying the GQII for correlation
analysis is in the context of development aid. In the year
2021, the BMZ asked the authors of the GQII for a study
comparing the project budget against the GQII 2020
ranking, as seen in Figure 12.
The study aimed to collect data, analyse, and relate the
performance of specic variables to make use of evidence
in evaluation and planning tasks focused on achieving a
more signicant impact on the development cooperation promoted by the Ministry (MARSCHALL, 2018). To achieve
this, the study used data from the GQII, such as the ranking of recipient economies and critical indicators from the
BMZ’s project portfolio (budget, type and number of projects, QI components, etc.).
5.3 Traceability of QI data over time
Traceability of QI allows a more accurate analysis by providing historical and contextualised information on the
performance, activities and results of QI bodies.
The data collected for the GQII and complementary information can be used in various applications such as comparative
tables, historical series, and benchmarking. Additionally, specialised studies on specic QI activities can be done using
the QI data collected annually by the GQII for 184 economies worldwide.
The applications mentioned above may be included in the GQII Report, or expressly requested by an organisation
interested in the study of QI components and their performance at the economic, regional or international level;
as well as by researchers and policymakers interested in the analysis of a particular activity or the development of
strategic recommendations for the promotion of QI.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE) Plus Malaysia
project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration
with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), aims to develop Malaysia’s QI system further.
Table 6: Number of accredited conformity assessment
Table 7: Number of accreditations in certied manage-
ment systems
The project strives to align Malaysia’s QI with ASEAN and
EU standards, and one of the activities is the development
of an NQP. To this end, an assessment of Malaysia’s
National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) was developed.
Specic data was collected for each component, its
activities, and its evolution over the last few years.
An example of the data systematised in the assessment is
presented in Table 6 and Table 7, which show respectively
the number of accredited CABs and the detailed count
of accreditations in certied management systems in the
years 2020 and 2021. The elaboration of these tables,
which was made possible through data collection for the
GQII, has allowed for the visualisation of the degree of
progress in these two specic activities.
The ability to map specic components of QI at the
economywide or international level has proved to be an
added value that the GQII can provide to national and
regional QI-promoting bodies.
5.4 Display the origin of the accreditation
Specialised studies based on GQII data, such as the
Cross-Border Accreditation Study published in 2021
(HARMES-LIEDTKE/ MATTA 2021), are another example
of the applicability of the index. The Cross-Border
Accreditation Study addresses the cross-border activities
of accreditation bodies, illustrating for the rst time an
Figure 13: World overview of cross-border accreditation
Figure 14: Cross-border accreditation - India
international picture of how accreditation services are
exported and imported.
Figure 13 reects the positions of the economies on the
world map, making it possible to observe the relationship
patterns in which transnational accreditation links occur.
Furthermore, this publication analyses
the activities of accreditation bodies
outside their country of origin. For
example, accreditation exports from
India, as seen in Figure 14.
Ultimately, this study highlights the
cooperation but also the competition
between NABs. Its elaboration can
be useful in fostering international
coordination of accreditation activities
for national accreditation institutions
and regional bodies promoting QI
5.5 Benchmarking with other countries
Benchmarking is widely used in various sectors and industries for investigating, tracking and verifying behaviour or
practices suitable for a given purpose. Thus, the comparability of the data is one of the central elements in ensuring
the quality of the analysis and the eventual replicability of the practices observed.
In the context of QI, efforts and data sources that allow access to systematised and comparable information are
still incipient. Hence the GQII intends to contribute by presenting the annual ranking and the open and accessible
availability of the data.
An example of this exciting application is the benchmark (see Table 8) conducted to assess the state of development
of Malaysia’s QI compared to a selection of other countries. The consultants compared the GQII data for each QI
sub-component for Malaysia with that of Germany (rst-ranked country in the GQII), Australia, Mexico and Indonesia.
The selected economies have characteristics that provide a valid and relevant comparison in the ARISE Plus Malaysia
project mentioned above context.
In this case, research and analysis were carried out to provide those responsible for designing the NQP with benchmark
scenarios comparable to the context of the Malaysian economy.
Table 8: Benchmarking the state of development of Malaysia’s NQI
5.6 Thematic analysis (impacts of COVID-19 on QI)
The GQII data can also be used for sectoral analyses.
One example is the development of certications and
accreditations in the health sector between 2020 and
The ISO Survey provides data on the development of
management systems. For example, we see a decrease
in the pharmaceutical sector’s ISO 9001 management
certications from 3266 to 2999 (minus 8.2%). On the
other hand, the number of certications for the design
and development of medical devices according to ISO
13485 increased from 23,045 to 25,656 (plus 11.3%).
In the area of accreditation, however, the number of
certication bodies accredited for medical devices
decreased from 234 to 211 (minus 9.8%). In contrast,
we observe a massive increase in the accreditation of
medical labs according to ISO 15189 from 7,495 to 10,412
(plus 38.9%).
This assessment refers to global data. With the GQII
database, corresponding analyses can also be carried out
for individual countries or country comparisons.
QI Evolution by Medical Areas
QI Areas 2020 2021
ISO 9001 QMS - Pharma 3.266 2.999
ISO 13485 - Medical Devices 23.045 25.656
CABs - Medical Devices 234 211
CABs - Medical Labs 7.495 10.412
Note: ISO Surveys 2019 and 2020 considered in the comparison. CABs count correspond to 2020 and 2021.
Figure 15: QI evolution by medical areas
In its 2021 version, the GQII has established itself as the world’s rst QI index.3 Key institutions and leaders in QI,
development cooperation and academia support the GQII programme. The GQII is a pioneer in promoting a data-
driven culture applied to the development of QI by offering organised and centralised data, a curated and accessible
database, and an integrated analysis layer through data visuals.
The GQII 2020 is the beginning of a time series. The authors are counting on collecting and analysing global QI
data for the subsequent years. Retrospective reconstructions of time series would also be fascinating, but given the
incomplete data situation, they would only be of limited informative value and involve considerable effort. In this
respect, the authors want to concentrate on the future-oriented development of the GQII.
The authors are trying to strengthen their cooperation with QI organisations and the scientic community to improve
the data quality. In QI organisations, the realisation that transparent and externally available data helps gain recognition
and promote the use of QI services is only slowly growing. In the age of digitalisation, QI organisations are challenged
to make their information systems interoperable. In the age of blockchain technology, data transparency and the
protection of legitimate trade secrets do not have to be at odds with each other.
In this report, we have emphasised the potential uses of GQII data. The authors are convinced that there is rising
interest in QI intelligence. In this respect, it remains essential to demonstrate possible applications of QI data. This
applies to the regular investigation and international comparison of NQI systems, the empirical underpinning of
quality policy and the integration of QI in economic, social, and sustainable development studies.
However, the interoperability of QI data is also driven by businesses and consumers. In the context of a digitalised
Industry 4.0, the individual components of QI must also be interoperable. New developments, such as the circular
economy, require new data on energy and material ows, exponentially increasing the demand for conformity
assessment and metrological traceability in the future. These new developments enhance the importance of data and
quality and open new applications for analytics and foresight. In this respect, the authors of the GQII see themselves
as part of a broader movement to valorise QI data for overall sustainable development.
Conclusions and outlook
3 In June 2022, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) published the Quality Infrastruc-ture for Sustainable Development
(QI4SD) Index, While the GQII refers exclusively to QI data, the QI4SD makes the link between QI and SDGs explicit.
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 17: 2021 GQII country prole – Colombia
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 18: : 2021 GQII country prole – Egypt
Figure 19: 2021 GQII country prole – Ethiopia
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 20: 2021 GQII country prole – Georgia
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 21: 2021 GQII country prole – Ghana
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 22: 2021 GQII country prole – Jordan
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 23: 2021 GQII country prole - Kenya
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 24: 2021 GQII country prole - Mexico
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 25: 2021 GQII country prole – Uzbekistan
Annex 1: Country Proles
Figure 26: 2021 GQII country prole - Viet Nam
Annex 1: Country Proles
Annex 2: Chronicle of global quality
infrastructure in 2021
Date Organization News
21/06/16 Mesopartner Presentation of the GQII2020 by Mesopartner and Analytica
21/09/28 Mesopartner Presentation of study on Cross border accreditation by Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke and Andres Matta
21/11/03 IAF Emanuele Riva, IAF Vice-Chair and incoming IAF Chair, will be presenting at the #COP26 side event 'Building
back a net-zero resilient economy through Governance, Policy, Standards, Skills & Inclusion'.
21/09/09 IAF_Global IAF Executive Committee members met today to discuss a range of topics including the 2022 budget, committee
work, IAF CertSearch, and the COVID-19 FAQs.
21/09/13 IAF and
IAF Chair Xiao Jianhua represented IAF at the 8th Annual Meeting of International Organizations which began
today, while @ILAC_Ofcial Chair Etty Feller will be representing IAF along with ILAC tomorrow. Learn more about
the IO Partnership hereyer.pdf
21/09/30 IAF and
The IAF MLA Management Committee and @ILAC_Ofcial Arrangement Management Committee held their 30th
joint meeting today, discussing evaluation activities and issues relating to the IAF MLA and ILAC MRA.
21/10/12 IAF #COVID19 has increased the use of remote techniques in #audits, #assessments and #evaluations. IAF, @ILAC_
Ofcial and @isostandards recently conducted a survey to collect stakeholders’ views on remote techniques,
receiving highly positive feedback,
21/10/19 UNIDO Digital technologies are transforming how we live and work.
@UNIDO has published a new brochure on Standards & Digital Transformation: Good Governance in a Digital
21/10/20 IAF, ILAC
and ISO
A survey recently conducted by IAF, @ILAC_Ofcial and @isostandards showed strong support for the use of
remote techniques for #audits, #assessments and #evaluations.
21/10/14 IAF_Global #WorldStandardsDay on how standards can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
21/10/15 ILAC Following its annual meeting this week, the IAF/ @ILAC_Ofcial. JDSC held a workshop on IAF Mandatory
Documents, facilitated by Brahim Houla and Andrea Melo. Participants expressed appreciation for the capacity-
building initiative and their support for future related workshops.
21/10/29 IAF_Global IAF Technical Committee held its annual meeting this week, discussing task force and working group activities.
Members thanked TC Chair Steve Keeling, whose term will be ending at the upcoming IAF General Assembly, for
his strong leadership and hard work
21/11/04 IAF IAF held its 35th General Assembly online on 04 November 2021. Members heard updates on several activities
and, subsequent to the meeting, approved draft resolutions by ballot.
21/11/05 IAF IAF Members have elected Mr. Emanuele Riva of @ACCREDIA as our new IAF Chair. Read his message to
Members and stakeholders
21/11/13 ISO The @isostandards ISO 14001 user survey closes
21/12/09 IAF has published the new document IAF MD 24:2021 Transition Requirements for ISO 50003:2021. View it here:
21/12/15 INetQI INetQI held its 8th meeting today, chaired by IAF Chair Emanuele Riva, to discuss ongoing and potential projects
and initiatives. INetQI is formed of IOs active in promoting and implementing quality infrastructure activities as a
tool for sustainable economic development.
Sources: News in the period 01/01/2021 and 31/12/2021 on Twitter accounts of global QI organizations and QI-related tags by INetQ, BIPM, OIML,
Supported by:
For information on data and analytics on the quality infrastructure, visit
ISSN 2748-4866
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Digitalization in conformity assessment in Germany -A QI-FoKuS study
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CASTKA, P. 2022. Digitalization in conformity assessment in Germany -A QI-FoKuS study. Berlin: Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM).
OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Germany 2022: Building Agility for Successful Transitions
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OECD. (2022). OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Germany 2022: Building Agility for Successful Transitions. OECD.