Highlights of Select Current Projects and Deliverables:
Fostering SMEs’ Participation in Regional and Global Economy
A number of trade barriers could impede SMEs participation in the international trade in the APEC region including the problems of navigating various legal, regulatory and technical requirements. A study by the APEC Policy Support Unit in 2014 revealed that SMEs in both developed, newly industrialized, and developing economies indicated weakness in integrating into global value chains in terms of standards and certificates for agriculture and food processing. Subsequently, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Ministers recognized the promotion of standards and conformance as one of the priorities of the SME Working Group (SMEWG) for 2015. Collaborating with the SMEWG, the SCSC endorsed a work plan that specifies the following work streams to be pursued by the sub-committee:
- Exchanging information on packaging and labelling requirements
- Sharing standards and conformance learning materials;
- Capacity building activities oriented to training businesses, especially SMEs, to improve their knowledge, expertise and skills on standards and conformance matters, including the conduct of public consultations.
Good Regulatory Practice
The SCSC’s work on Good Regulatory Practices (GRP) led to the 2011 APEC Leader’s Declaration to strengthen implantation of GRP in economies (Annex D). GRP also supports the Committee on Trade and Investment’s ongoing work on regulatory coherence. Starting in 2015, the SCSC and the Economic Committee have been the alternating hosts for the annual GRP Conferences.
The 8th Conference on Good Regulatory Practice (GRP) was held on 27-28 August 2015 in Cebu, Philippines. The conference discussed key issues and recommended actions on: single online location for regulatory information; Periodic Review and Prospective Regulatory Planning; Capacity Building on GRP; and Best Practices and the Challenges faced by MSMEs for Inclusive Growth.
A project to build food safety laboratory testing capacity in the region led by the Australia, China, and United States is underway. This multi-year APEC project, “Building Convergence in Food Safety Standards and Regulatory Systems”, helps facilitate trade through the strengthening of food safety laboratory practices. Due to the diversity of APEC economies, there is “no one size fits all” in terms of capacity building needs in food safety laboratory testing. The project developed a multi-criteria roadmap to prioritize capacity building needs in APEC economies and implemented pilot projects in Chile and China to provide in-laboratory training for these two economies. Building on the two food safety activities led by Korea and China respectively as well as the High-Level Regulator Industry Dialogue in Beijing in 2014, food safety regulators and industry stakeholders met in 2015 for the APEC FSCF PTIN Roundtable on Effective Industry/Regulator Cooperation in Cebu, Philippines. The objective of the roundtable was to build the capacity of trade associations locally to be effective in helping their governments develop workable, sustainable national food safety policies, laws and regulations. At the end, the roundtable identified the following next steps to capacitate trade associations: (a) Development of a “Industry Associations: Their Role and Value” document; (b) Establish a mentoring program such as big brother/little brother concept; and (c) Map APEC resources to identify trade associations, infrastructure, and educational materials and establish contact network.
Under a project self-funded by Australia, the SCSC is also developing a guideline to facilitate the harmonisation of pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs) for imported foods within APEC economies by allowing automatic recognition of Codex MRLs or a trading partner's MRL where appropriate, or through the establishment of 'import tolerances' on a case-by-case basis supported by risk assessment processes.
Wine Regulatory Forum
There is a critical need for regulatory coherence in the APEC-region wine trade, which has grown dramatically from US $ 1.1 billion in 2000 to $3.6 billion in 2010. With this growth, a rising number of unnecessary non-tariff barriers costs businesses (primarily small and medium sized wine producers) an estimated US $1 billion. A significant portion of these costs is attributed to unnecessary testing and multiple, overlapping export certificates for wine imports into developing economies. The multi-year project “The Wine Regulatory Forum: Good Regulatory Practices Action Plan” is focused on reducing these trade barriers and enhancing regulatory and standards harmonization across APEC economies. The Wine Regulatory Forum is also working together with the World Wine Trade Group. For more information on the Wine Regulatory Forum’s work see their website as well as an APEC Bulletin article.
Energy Efficiency of the Commercial Building Sector
Building codes historically have been important policy tools for managing the safety, security, health, environment, and economy of the building sector. The US-led project, “Role of Standards and Conformity Assessment Measures in Enhancing the Performance and Energy Efficiency of the Commercial Building Sector,” focuses on encouraging consistent and transparent green building standards and avoiding the creation of unnecessary obstacles to trade. The project identified best practices in standards and green building code development. The study’s report provides an understanding of how APEC member economies utilize building codes to increase building performance, aligning with the “green” goals of resource conservation and waste reduction. The project also developed the Start-up Guide to Building Information Modelling, as well as APEC Green Building Code Infrastructure Guide, and Guide to Performance Metrics and BIM to support Green Building Objectives.
The recently completed SCSC project, “Inspiring Next Generation of Standards Professional Development” explored the skill-set required by standards professionals to meet the needs of businesses, government agencies, education institutes, and standards-related organization in the APEC region. Through implementation, the project facilitated APEC member economies defining and sharing good practices on how to develop the next human resources for standards and conformance, the most important technical infrastructure, and furthermore identifying how to set up a strategic plan for cooperation throughout the region. The outcome report can be found here.
The SCSC works in areas ranging from good regulatory practices, product and food safety, standards and conformance education, and environment/energy efficiency standards.
The SCSC established the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) in 2007, recognizing that food safety and internationally-harmonized food standards are key factors in improving public health and safety, and in facilitating trade in food for APEC economies. The FSCF is made up of the food safety regulators and focuses on regulatory cooperation and promotion of international standards and best practices. FSCF launched the Partnership Training Institute Network (PTIN), a public private partnership to build food safety capacity in the region. The work of FSCF and PTIN led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between APEC SCSC-FSCF and the World Bank in 2011, which paved the way for the development of a Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP). GFSP brings some of the APEC food safety capacity building work to a wider, global audience. The ongoing SCSC projects aligned with the World Bank’s GFSP include the multi-year project “Building convergence in Food Safety Standards and Regulatory Systems” and the new project started in 2015: Preparing Trainers to Deliver Sustainable Education to Prevent Food Safety Concerns Threatening Aquaculture Development including Related Concerns for Disease Management”.
The Wine Regulatory Forum (WRF) was established in February 2008 with an aim of simplifying and harmonizing wine regulations, as well as promoting regulatory coherence and reducing trade barriers across the APEC region. Regulators in APEC economies discuss development of regulations that facilitate trade, prevent consumer deception, promote food safety, and consider regulations that are consistent with WTO principles. The WRF has, among other things, embarked on a multi-year project since 2013 aimed at increasing developing economies’ regulatory capacity in key wine regulatory issues. More information highlighting the Wine Regulatory Forum’s work can be found in an APEC Bulletin article and on the WRF website.
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Standards
Pathfinder Initiative: Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Conformity Assessment of Electrical and Electronic Equipment
In 1996, building on the preceding work on the Food and Food Products MRA, the SCSC agreed to concentrate on the electronic and electric equipment sector as the next priority area to develop a MRA. In 1997, an ad hoc Expert Working Group of the SCSC began the work on the Electrical and Electronic Equipment MRA (EEMRA). The SCSC endorsed the final text of the EEMRA, the Terms of Reference for the EEMRA Joint Advisory Committee (JAC, renamed to the Joint Regulatory Advisory Committee or JRAC in 2009), and the Implementation Guide for EEMRA in 1999. The objective of the EEMRA is to enable mutual recognition of conformity assessment with a view to facilitating trade in regulated electrical and electronic equipment between member economies. The EEMRA allows for three levels of participation to cater for the different capabilities of member economies’ technical infrastructure and administrative requirements. Currently, 18 member economies participate in Part I of the EEMRA, 5 member economies in Part II, and 4 member economies in Part III.
APEC Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mutual Recognition Arrangement (EEMRA)
The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mutual Recognition Arrangement (EEMRA) is intended to apply to all instances, both pre- and post-market, where test reports or certification are used as the basis for regulatory compliance with respect to electrical and electronic equipment.
For regulators, the EEMRA ensures that comprehensive information relating to member economies' regulatory regimes are available to manufacturers, thereby improving compliance with regulatory requirements. The MRA also provides a 'local' contact should further information be required.
For manufacturers, the EEMRA allows product development, testing, certification, inspection and approval to be obtained within the manufacturers' economy thereby reducing 'time to market,' testing and certification costs. By having mutual recognition of test reports and certification by designated testing and certification bodies respectively, duplicate testing and certification can be avoided when products are being exported to numerous markets.
The EEMRA has three parts reflecting the different levels of participation:
Part I: Information interchange
Information about a participating APEC Member Economy's mandatory requirements on regulated electrical and electronic products is provided in a standardized format to assist those in other APEC Member Economies who may wish to export electrical and electronic products to that economy. At present, 17 Member Economies are participants in Part I of the MRA.
Part II: Acceptance of test reports
Part II of the MRA commits participating APEC Member Economies to mutually accept test reports produced by testing facilities designated by participating economies in accordance with the designation requirements of the EE MRA. The designation requirements are in accordance with the relevant ISO/IEC Standards and do not require re-testing.
Part III: Acceptance of certification
Part III commits a participating importing APEC economy to accept product certification (including batch testing) produced by certification bodies designated by participating exporting economies in accordance with the designation requirements of the EE MRA. The designation requirements are in accordance with the relevant ISO/IEC Guide. Certification bodies may issue product certificates (Certificate of Conformity), which are acceptable in participating importing economies, thus negating the need to re-certify the product.
A series of workshops were held from 2012 to 2014 under the APEC multi-year project on “The Role of Standards and Conformity Assessment Measures in Enhancing the Performance and Energy Efficiency of the Commercial Building Sector,” which was built upon the workshop on “Sustainability in Building Construction (Commercial Buildings)” held in Washington DC in March 2011. The year 2013 saw the successful conclusion of two workshops, including the workshop on “Sharing Experiences in the Design and Implementation of Green Building Codes in the APEC Economies” held in March in Lima, Peru and the second workshop on “How Building Information Modeling Standards Can Improve Building Performance” in June in Medan, Indonesia.
Energy Efficiency for ICT Products
The SCSC also oversees the implementation of “Aligning Energy Efficiency Regulations for ICT Products – Implementing A Strategic Approach”, the first project under the forum to focus on global convergence of energy efficiency (EE) regulations for ICT products, building upon principles supported at the 2011 APEC Conference on Alignment of EE Regulations and actions agreed upon at the 2012 conference in Seoul. The project will entail: 1) Leveraging international certification/testing agreements, such as the IEC EE E3 Program, to meet conformity assessment requirements; 2) Utilization of internationally accepted test methods for energy efficiency of priority products (such as PCs, servers, network standby and printers); and 3) Promoting greater data sharing among economies on energy performance of ICT products to ensure greater consistency in methods for standards development and regulatory limits.
The solar initiative encompasses three activities: a) a survey of APEC member economies on three categories of solar technologies (photovoltaic cells, solar water heaters, concentrated solar power); b) a Conference on Trade Impacts of Solar Technologies Standards and Conformity Assessment Measures was held in San Francisco in September 2011; and c) a Conference on Photovoltaic Reliability and Durability was held in Chinese Taipei in October 2011.
Energy Efficiency Management Standards
The Conference on the Implementation of Energy Management Systems Standards was held in September 2011. This was led by the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), and sought to promote the use of energy efficiency and conservation management systems by government and private sector entities that are supported by credible and competent certification systems throughout the region.
Standards and Conformance Education
The five-year Standards and Conformance Education Initiative was implemented from 2007 to 2011. The Phase III resulted in a trial program for higher education and the consolidation of a casebook from fourteen universities. The five year project encompassed four publications, seven meetings/workshops, the development and maintenance of an information portal on standards education. These activities have resulted in heightened visibility for standards education in the APEC region.
Specialist Regional Bodies
The SCSC works closely with the following five Specialist Regional Bodies, the expert regional bodies responsible for the development of the standards and conformance infrastructure in the Asia Pacific.