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What is this Arrangement and what does it do?

Who benefits from this Arrangement?

What is this Arrangement and what does it do?

This Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) facilitates trade in telecommunications equipment by providing for: a) the mutual recognition of Conformity Assessment Bodies, which test equipment and certify that it meets technical standards, and b) the mutual acceptance of test results and equipment certifications. The MRA applies to all equipment subject to telecommunications regulation, including wireline, wireless, terrestrial and satellite equipment.

APEC, established in 1989 as an informal dialogue group, has become an important vehicle for promoting trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC's Telecommunications MRA was concluded at a gathering of Ministers for Telecommunications and Information in Singapore on May 8, 1998. It entered into effect on July 1, 1999. The following 18 APEC members (out of APEC's total membership of 21) are Parties to the MRA: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and the United States.

The MRA is a voluntary arrangement- an expression of intent by the Parties to work together to accept each other's test reports and equipment certifications. It does not, in itself, require harmonization of technical requirements or create other legally binding obligations. The Parties to the MRA rely on separate exchanges of information and/or more formal exchanges of letters with other Parties to implement its provisions. As of May, 2001, Phase I of the MRA (mutual recognition of testing laboratories) was in operation between the United States and three other Parties- Canada, Singapore and Taiwan. Implementing agreements between two Parties to the MRA do not impose obligations on the other Parties.

The MRA has no expiration date, although Parties can terminate their participation on six months written notice.

Who benefits from this Arrangement?

The MRA affects more than $50 billion in current trade flows of telecommunications and telecommunications-related equipment between the U.S. and APEC economies. By accelerating regulatory procedures and eliminating redundant testing, the bilateral agreements that implement the MRA cut costs for U.S. companies that export to the other Parties to the Arrangement. They also reduce costs for importers and for testing laboratories and certification bodies.

How can this Arrangement help my company?

Telecommunications Equipment Manufacturers

Manufacturers of telecommunications terminal equipment and radio equipment based in the APEC economies will benefit by having reduced expenses and shorter processing times to export their products to each others' markets. This is particularly helpful for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who may not have a presence in the export market, but whose innovative technology is in high demand. Independent certification bodies for telecommunications equipment, if designated as Conformity Assessment Assessment Bodies (CABs) under the Agreement, can also compete for the provision of conformity assessment services. However, for U.S. manufacturers, the APEC TEL MRA arrangement only applies with APEC economies for which the U.S. has exchanged letters to implement its provisions.

Conformity Assessment Bodies

The Mutual Recognition Arrangement provides for the recognition of two types of CABs:

. testing laboratories, which can provide an exporter with test data used to obtain a type approval or certification, if required, in an importing country or to make a declaration of conformity in accordance with the regulatory requirements of an importing country; and

. certification bodies, which can certify that a supplier's equipment conforms with the technical and regulatory requirements of an importing country.

The MRA requires that testing laboratories and certification bodies must have technological knowledge of the relevant equipment, an understanding of applicable technical regulations and the practical capability to perform relevant conformity assessment procedures. Testing laboratories must have the technical capability and expertise to test against standards of the International Organization for Standardization (offsite link) (ISO) and be capable of determining compliance, Certification bodies must have current technical competence, knowledge and expertise to evaluate test data and reports and to reach appropriate conclusions with respect to applicable technical regulations.

The MRA commits the Parties to:

. establish conditions that inspire confidence in the competence of their Conformity Assessment Bodies (assurances that standards of measurement are maintained to a high degree of accuracy and are traceable to international standards, instruments are properly calibrated, inspectors and assessors are technically competent to carry out tests and interpret results);

. recognize in separate implementing agreements the Conformity Assessment Bodies designated by other Parties; and

. accept in implementing agreements the results of conformity assessments performed by those bodies.

Designating and Monitoring Conformity Assessment Bodies

In an Annex to the MRA, each Party lists a Designating Authority which designates and verifies the competence of Conformity Assessment Bodies within its jurisdiction and recognizes CABs outside its jurisdiction. The United States has listed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as its Designating Authority. ("Accreditation bodies" may also be appointed to accredit CABs, provided that they observe the same procedures that are set forth in the MRA for Designating Authorities.)

Appendix A to the MRA describes the requirements and procedures that Designating Authorities (and accreditation bodies) must follow when they designate and monitor CABs.

Implementing the MRA

Parties to the MRA participate in "Phase I" or "Phase II" procedures, or in both simultaneously. "Phase I" procedures, which are described in detail in Appendix B apply to the mutual recognition of testing laboratories as Conformity Assessment Bodies and the mutual recognition of test reports. "Phase II" procedures, described in detail in Appendix C apply to the mutual recognition of certification bodies as CABs and the mutual acceptance of equipment certifications. Parties notify the Chairman of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (APEC TEL WG) when they are ready to participate in Phase I or II.

In the U.S. Government, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the point of contact for activities under the MRA.

Information Exchange

Each Party to the MRA agreed to make publicly available a list of technical regulations that fall within the scope of Phase I and Phase II procedures. The Parties also agreed to provide advance notice of new regulations and to give any interested company or individual of the other Parties the opportunity to comment before the regulation is adopted.

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

Yes. If you believe, in the course of exporting telecommunications equipment to a country that is implementing the APEC MRA with the Unites States that that country has failed to comply with the MRA's provisions, contact the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's hotline at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Center can help you understand the benefits of the MRA and can alert the relevant U.S. Government officials to make inquiries with the government authorities of the other country, if appropriate, that could help you resolve your problem.

How can I get more information?

The complete text of APEC's Telecommunications Equipment Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) is available on the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's web site. In addition, the APEC TEL MRA agreement text includes links to the existing exchanges of letters with Canada, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan.

If you have questions about this Arrangement or how to use it, you can e-mail which will forward your message to the Commerce Department's Designated Monitoring Officer for the Arrangement. You can also contact the Designated Monitoring Officer at the following address:

Designated Monitoring Officer -

Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Phone: (202) 482 - 6083

Fax: (202) 482 - 5834

You can find more information about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) and its Telecommunications and Information Working Group (APEC TEL WG) on APEC's web site (offsite link).

TANC offers these agreements electronically as a public service for general reference. Every effort has been made to ensure that the text presented is complete and accurate. However, copies needed for legal purposes should be obtained from official archives maintained by the appropriate agency.