Elimination of technical barriers to trade
ACCSQ (ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality), has been playing a major role in implementing measures that will greatly contribute to the establishment of the AEC. It is actively pursuing the reduction and possibly elimination of technical barriers to trade through the harmonization of standards (based on international standards) and technical regulations within the region. The development of MRAs (Mutual Recognition Agreements) should also help facilitate the free movement of goods within the region and achieve the end goal of 'One standard, one test, accepted everywhere'.
Harmonization is underway
The 10 ASEAN member states – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – have already accomplished the harmonization of standards for 20 priority products. In addition, 97 safety and 10 EMC standards have been identified and their harmonization, mostly based on IEC International Standards, has been completed. In future, priority for harmonization will be given to those standards used in technical regulations in member states. In that respect, member states have agreed to work towards the implementation of the ASEAN harmonized regulatory regime for electrical and electronic equipment.
In parallel, the work on MRAs has been accelerated. An MRA for electrical and electronic equipment was signed in 2002. To date, all 10 member states have notified their participation through acceptance of test reports and/or product certification.
IECEE a key player
Because conformity assessment is regarded as a key factor to facilitate free trade and economic development, the IEC, through IECEE, its System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, has repeatedly been invited to participate in ASEAN ACCSQ meetings. On 12-13 March 2012, IECEE Executive Secretary Pierre de Ruvo attended the 38th ACCSQ meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Also present was IEC-APRC(IEC Asia-Pacific Regional Centre) Regional Director Dennis Chew.
The meeting was officially opened by the Honourable Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, the Permanent Secretary (Professional and Technical) at the Brunei Ministry of Development. In his keynote speech, Awang Haji Suhaimi highlighted the importance of conformity assessment, explaining that it is often the duplicative testing procedures arising from different systems of conformity assessment in various countries that have become serious obstacles to trade. He expressed great satisfaction for the ongoing harmonization of standards and MRAs in the region that ultimately lead to 'One standard, one test, accepted everywhere'.
Taking developing countries onboard
In his presentation, Pierre de Ruvo focused first on the IEC Affiliate Country Programme for developing countries, stating what the advantages are for participating countries. He then went on to present the three IEC Conformity Assessment Systems and spent time presenting the IECEE System and the benefits of using the IECEE Schemes and Services.
Having set these bases, de Ruvo devoted the rest of his presentation to the new IECEE Affiliate status, launched earlier this year, which grants IEC Affiliate Countries observer status in the IECEE System, offers them a form of participation in conformity assessment activities without the financial burden of actual membership and allows them to make full use of the IECEE 100% electronic environment.
This is particularly important for ASEAN members since four out of 10 countries are IEC Affiliates: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. The IECEE Affiliate status can be the basis on which they build the necessary conformity assessment structures to ensure that all imported electrical and electronic goods comply with IEC International Standards in terms of safety and efficiency.
Exciting challenges ahead
In his conclusion, de Ruvo said: “We are at the forefront of new and exciting challenges in conformity assessment and the IECEE System aims to be a player that can be trusted.”