Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance

Standards and conformance procedures that are harmonized across economies improve the efficiency of production and facilitate the conduct of international trade. This results in more rapid trade flows, reduced costs and a greater integration of production networks.

The Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) was established in 1994 to help reduce the negative effects that differing standards and conformance arrangements have on trade and investment flows in the Asia-Pacific Region. In this way, the SCSC assists the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) to achieve APEC's trade and investment liberalization and facilitation agenda.

The main objectives of the SCSC are to:

  • Reduce technical barriers to trade and enhance market access through standards and conformance
  • Align each economy’s standards with international standards
  • Promote good regulatory practices in the preparation, adoption and application of standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures
  • Progress mutual recognition arrangements for conformity assessment within the region
  • Pursue regional cooperation in accordance with international agreements
  • Ensure greater transparency
  • Encourage participation in standards education and awareness programs to build capacity and capability to enhance the competitiveness of businesses, including micro, small and medium enterprises.

The SCSC comprises of representatives nominated by the 21 member economies who are drawn from agencies responsible for standards and conformance issues as well as trade policy matters.

Nominated representatives from specialist regional bodies such as the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC), the Asia-Pacific Legal Metrology Forum (APLMF), the Asia-Pacific Metrology Program (APMP), and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) participate in SCSC meetings as expert regional bodies responsible for the development of standards and conformance infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) and the Joint Regulatory Advisory Committee (JRAC) report to the SCSC as its subsidiary bodies and as official groups of APEC.

Last page update: February 2021

Current Activities

Highlights of ongoing discussions, current projects and deliverables

Given the current situation around COVID, the SCSC Chair circulated a COVID-19-related questionnaire in June 2020 to share information regarding the policy responses and measures taken up by each member economy with regards to the pandemic. The questionnaire consists of eight questions that focus on standards and conformance including the development of new standards due to the impact of COVID-19 and the role standards and conformance plays in mitigating its impact. The result of the questionnaire showed that standards and conformance play a significant role in combating the pandemic and in mitigating its impact (results are available on the Meeting Document Data Base [MDDB] on the APEC website, accessible to APEC members).

The SCSC held its second meeting for 2020 (SCSC2) virtually on 14–15 September. Delegates from 19 member economies attended SCSC2, along with Special Regional Bodies members (SRBs) as well as guests—namely, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Highlights of SCSC2 are as follows:

  • The SCSC Chair provided updates on the results of the COVID-19-related questionnaire to share information regarding the policy responses and measures taken up by each member economy with regards to the pandemic.
  • The SCSC continued its work on alignment with international standards through the implementation of its Voluntary Action Plan (VAP). The 8th VAP included the conduct of a survey on the alignment of 55 International Standards (IS) in the field of electrical appliances, cybersecurity, environmental management, greenhouse gases, smart cities, etc., with the participation of 14 economies. The 9th VAP will be conducted focusing on COVID-19 related standards. 
  • Special Regional Bodies (SRBs) reaffirmed the importance of working with stakeholders such as regulators, scheme owners and industry during the COVID-19 pandemic is the key to assure continuous delivery of accredited services in the marketplace. SRBs emphasized the necessity of accepting remote assessments as an alternative means, which should be further enhanced with more experience gained and acceptance by scheme owners especially in high-risk areas such as food safety management.
  • A number of initiatives are undertaken in the SCSC, particularly in the areas of transparency, alignment of standards and conformity assessment systems, and education through capacity building, regulatory, cross-fora cooperation and promotion activities.

The 25th Joint Regulatory Advisory Committee (JRAC) convened on 10 September in the margins of SCSC2 2020, with the International Electrotechnical Commission in attendance. The JRAC is a body established by APEC member economies to be the official sub-group under the SCSC, for the purpose of:

  • Promoting and facilitating regulator-to-regulator dialogue, cooperation and information sharing
  • Administering, facilitating and reviewing the implementation of the TILF Pathfinder on APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Conformity Assessment of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (the MRA Pathfinder)

Highlights of the 25th JRAC are as follows:

  • A JRAC member shared a case study in which the COVID-19 pandemic required a member economy to widen its recognized standards and certification systems to increase its options for suppliers.
  • Another experience in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic was shared in which one of the JRAC member economies decided to simplify an application process for a license to import products that requires industrial standards.

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Achievements

Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance

The SCSC works in areas ranging from good regulatory practices, product and food safety, standards and conformance education, and environment/energy efficiency standards.