APEC Seeks to Collaborate on Standards

The second meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) concludes in Shenzhen on Tuesday.

This year provides us with further challenges as we seek to find ways to respond to the directions and decisions arise in meeting of leaders, ministers and senior official as well as priorities laid down in the 2000 (APEC) annual report," said Li Shaoqing, SCSC chairman, in his opening address of the two-day meeting.

More than 60 people from 18 APEC member economies attended the meeting, the good regulatory practice seminar and the joint advisory committee meetings held last weekend, said Li, who is also an official of the Department of Science-Technology and International Co-operation of China's State General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine.

According to Li, the meeting is scheduled to review "very recent advances by the SCSC" and will also consider new topics, such as the SPS issue (the Agreement on the Implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitory Measures), the streamlining of the meeting agenda and the start of trade and investment liberalization fund projects.

According to Li, the sub-committee's major work falls into four categories: to align APEC members' standards with international standards, to achieve mutual recognition of conformity assessment in regulated and voluntary sectors, to promote co-operation for technical infrastructure development, and to ensure the transparency of the standards and conformity assessment.

In Sunday's SCSC meeting participants discussed policies and topics for a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) on electrical and electronic equipment, according to Liu Weijun, who is also a member of China's SCSC delegation.

According to Liu, who was selected as vice-chairman of the joint advisory committee for the MRA at the meeting, the 12 APEC member economies that attended the meeting made a breakthrough drafting a standard format for information exchange, one of three parts to the electronic MRA.

The other two parts urge participating members to achieve mutual recognition of test reports and of certification, said Liu.

"The development of a mutual recognition arrangement on conformity assessment is a mechanism that can address standards and conformance related trade impediments," Liu said.

Not only can mutual recognition arrangements reduce the time and cost of assessing goods to the requirements of importing economies, but they also reduce the level of duplicative testing and certification that currently occurs for exports going to multiple economies, Liu said.

Mutual recognition arrangements are encouraged in the APEC SCSC Collective Action Plan and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, according to Liu.

With the rapid development of APEC, the SCSC is having to tackle economic policies and technical measures in more industries and sectors than ever, ranging from food, toys, electrical and electronic products, chemical industry, building, medicine and medical equipment, to environmental protection, transportation, energy, consumer protection, information technology, boilers and pressure vessels and mine safety, Li said.

Following the meeting of APEC sub-committees and forums, which lasted from May 26 to 31, the Second Senior Officials' Meeting of the 13th APEC Ministerial Meeting will be held on June 1-3, also in Shenzhen.

(China Daily 05/29/2001 )

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