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: October 2021
Highlights of ongoing discussions, current projects and deliverables
Given the current situation around COVID-19, the SCSC Chair circulated a COVID-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 first meeting for 2021 (SCSC1) virtually on 20 and 23 February. Delegates from 18 member economies attended SCSC1, along with special regional bodies members (SRBs) as well as guests—namely, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Highlights of SCSC1 are as follows:
- The SCSC Chair echoed importance of sharing COVID-related information, including 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 9th VAP will focus on standards of measures against COVID-19 and future pandemics. Fifty-two standards were selected for the survey, including standards on medical equipment such as ventilators, biological evaluation and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The SCSC Chair’s team provided information on two sessions in the upcoming 14th GRP conference in SOM3: “Session 1: International regulatory Cooperation-focused on APEC-OECD IRC Resource” and “Session 2 : Technology and GRP.”
- 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 26th Joint Regulatory Advisory Committee (JRAC) convened on 18 February in the margins of SCSC1 2021, 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 EE MRA Pathfinder)
Highlights of the 26th 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.
- A JRAC member confirmed the importance to keep EE MRA updated.
The 8th Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) was convened on 28 and 29 May in the margins of SOM2. Delegates from 17 economies attended the meeting to discuss measures to strengthen food safety.
Highlights of the 8th FSCF are as follows:
- FSCF members agreed on the 8th FSCF Statement which emphasized the importance for members to reach consensus on the FSCF Terms of Reference (ToR) by SOM3. In order to urgently advance the FSCF ToR discussion, members agreed to set up an e-working group (e-WG) and reaffirmed its determination to fix the FSCF ToR by SOM3.
- The 8th Statement also showed directions and goals of FSCF work in the future, proposed future project plans, and reaffirmed its commitment to work collaboratively to strengthen food safety systems and enhance the harmonization of food standards with international standards across the APEC region.
- A number of ideas for future project and initiative in the FSCF were shared, particularly in the areas of trade facilitation, enhancing knowledge and transparency of import and export food safety requirements, capacity building and so on.