Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) provide for the recognition of testing, certification, and inspections. New Zealand currently has MRAs with Australia, the European Union, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and one which is applicable across the 21 member economies of APEC.
All Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) owe their existence to the trade facilitation objectives of the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. The TBT seeks to ensure that regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles, while also providing members with the right to implement measures to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of human health and safety, or the environment
The principle of an MRA is to provide for the recognition of testing, certification (approvals), and inspections (including both batch and factory inspections). They establish that products that are tested or certified to meet the requirements of the destination market can be assessed in the market of manufacture.
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) and the New Zealand – China Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) MRA are based on ‘Market to Market’ and risk management principles.
Below is a list of current MRAs.
Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA)
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA) is a market-to-market (equivalence) MRA, allowing the sale of a product in one partner’s market based only on the product’s saleability in the other partner’s market.
In reality however, the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) based inter-regulatory recognition vehicles, the common Standards, and the recognised accreditation and approval regimes actually drive the Trans-Tasman EE marketplace by creating a de facto Single Economic Market (SEM) without the burden of any rules of origin.
Most MRAs do not permit a product that is saleable in one jurisdiction to be sold in another jurisdiction simply on its compliance in the first.
The TTMRA, through its application only to products directly traded between the two partners and its legislative construction, is a somewhat atypical and unique form of MRA. In practise it creates proof of compliance with the partner’s legislation within certain prescribed limitations. It might be described as conveying a privilege rather than a right as is usually the function of other MRAs. The TTMRA is enacted through the TTMRA Act 1997 in New Zealand and mirroring legislation in the States and Territories of Australia.
Because the TTMRA facilitates trade it plays an important part in the development of a trans-Tasman SEM. Combined with the inter-regulatory recognition, the regime demonstrates how a high-level form of agreement between regulators creates, and facilitates, the marketplace’s operation.
It is interesting to note that in the Trans-Tasman market, the TTMRA is not always applied as might be expected. Manufacturers in Australia commonly have their products tested in New Zealand to Australian Standards for sale in Australia simply because the testing is cheaper or faster. This in turn demonstrates how mutual recognition operates to assist the markets to develop.
The European Union MRA
The European Union (EU) – New Zealand Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) was the first substantial trade facilitating agreement to be negotiated applying to Electrical and Electronic (EE) products. Its coverage includes electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electrical safety. It applies to all low voltage electrical and electronic products.
It was negotiated as a matched pair of agreements between New Zealand and Australia and the EU, and allows the partners to test, and where required, certify products traded between Australasia and the EU.
The EU MRA applies EN standards for products destined for Europe, and AS/NZS standards and approval requirements (certification) for products destined for New Zealand or Australia. Its implementation in Australia is subtly different to its application in New Zealand, but it does allow testing in either country to apply to products from either country. For New Zealand, the EU issued certification is recognised as constituting a New Zealand ‘approval’.
Test Lab and Certification body accreditation is carried out in accordance with the relevant ISO guidelines under the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ), or the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for Australia, and the Joint Accreditation System of Australia & New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) frameworks.
The EU MRA has five sectors of which electrical product safety, EMC and medical devices are the three of relevance to the electrical industry and its regulatory processes.
The EU EE MRA has a rule of origin, although that factor is being considered for removal from the agreement.
Singapore – New Zealand CEP EEE MRA
The Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) of the New Zealand Singapore Closer Economic Partnership (ANZSCEP).
The ANZSCEP(external link) is a paired relationship agreement between New Zealand and Singapore, and, Australia and Singapore. The CEP is a form of FTA (Free Trade Agreement) closely modelled on the trans-Tasman CER agreement. The CEP has an EE products MRA annex which recognises certification and testing between the partners. Like other MRAs, it maintains the standards of each participant, but allows accreditation of testing and certification bodies to be carried out in the other partner’s territory.
This MRA is based on the APEC MRA framework but contains additional co-operative obligations, including an obligation for further evolution and a commitment for hazard alert information interchange.
New Zealand - Taiwan MRA
The New Zealand-Taiwan MRA, like similar MRAs, applies to the testing and certification of electrical and electronic products, but is the first arrangement to also include inspection and factory accreditation.
The MRA is between the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New Zealand (TECO).
It allows the partners to test, and where required, certify products traded between Taiwan and New Zealand. It applies Taiwanese standards for products destined for Taiwan and AS/NZS Standards and approval requirements (certification) for products destined for New Zealand.
In New Zealand, a Taiwanese issued certification is recognised as constituting a New Zealand ‘approval’.
Test lab, certification body and inspection body accreditation is carried out in accordance with the relevant ISO guidelines under the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) and Joint Accreditation System of Australia & New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) frameworks.
The arrangement covers electrical and electronic (EE) product EMC and electrical safety compliance for a specified range of products. It is also based on the APEC MRA framework but contains additional co-operative obligations, including an obligation for further evolution and a commitment for hazard alert information interchange.
The Taiwan – New Zealand EEMRA is implemented through a Gazette notice issued pursuant to the Electricity Regulations 1997.
Singapore also has an arrangement with Taiwan for EMC and electrical safety. That arrangement ‘dovetails’ well with New Zealand’s MRA with Singapore and forms a loose triangle for regulatory co-operation.
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation EE MRA
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) electrical and electronic equipment (EE) MRA is a pluri-lateral arrangement applicable across APEC’s 21 member economies.
The MRA applies to EMC and electrical safety of new electrical and electronic equipment but specifically excludes telecommunication products (which are covered by the APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment, to which New Zealand is not a signatory).
New Zealand and Australia are participants at the testing and certification (approval) levels as well as the information interchange level.
The MRA has three unique features:
- It includes regulatory system information interchange as an explicit component. This component of the MRA serves to provide a good basis for regulatory understanding amongst the partners, assisting trade even if no recognition is taking place.
- It has separate levels of participation, allowing the participants to accept testing, or certification, or both, as well as simply exchange regulatory system information.
- It is a multilateral MRA potentially applying to all 21 partners, although at present it has only 5 active participants at the recognition level and 12 at information interchange level.
The APEC EE MRA has rules for participation and is administered by a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) that processes applications to participate, and maintains the website database of information. The role of the JAC is evolving into a regulatory cooperative forum to benefit the region’s regulatory agencies.
While the MRA does not strictly include energy conservation and other regulatory objectives, some participants are including information on energy conservation in their information exchange documents. This may be a point of evolution for New Zealand’s participation in this MRA.
New Zealand - China Cooperation Agreement
New Zealand has entered a cooperation agreement for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) with (China) as part of New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China(external link).
The agreement applies to specified types of EEE that are regulated in China under, and are also either a Declared Article in New Zealand or a product covered by our Supplier Declaration of Compliance (SDoC) regime.
This agreement contains significant Regulatory Cooperative Agreement (RCA) features and is the first Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) to have an asymmetrical recognition format, reflecting the balance of trade and significantly different regulatory processes of the two partners. It is also the first MRA to recognise the full regime of a partner, including the marking systems applied by that system.
The New Zealand-China agreement is based on risk management principles and also moves closer to the principles of an ‘equivalence’ MRA.
Probably the most important feature arising from this MRA’s development is the engagement of each regulatory agency in the enforcement of compliance for products being exported to the other partner’s market. This enforcement capacity and commitment reinforces the cooperative principles of an RCA and represents a further evolutionary step of MRA development from simply being trade facilitation to being an instrument for regulatory regime enhancement.
The New Zealand – China Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) co-operation agreement is implemented through a Gazette notice and specific regulatory provisions under the Electricity Regulations 1997.
The agreement applies to specified types of EEE that is regulated in China under their CCC system and is also either a Declared Article in New Zealand or a product covered by New Zealand's Supplier Declaration of Compliance regime (SDoC).