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What is this Arrangement and what does it do?
The Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) is an association of organizations in the Asia Pacific region that accredit testing and calibration laboratories and inspection bodies. Most are associated with or endorsed by national governments. At a meeting in Tokyo on November 19, 1997, seven members of APLAC signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) in which they agreed to recognize the technical equivalence of the signatories' testing and calibration laboratory accreditation programs, and to promote the equivalence of these accreditations within their own economies.
Since 1997, additional accreditation organizations have signed the MRA. The following 30 organizations in 17 economies, as of August 2009, are the current APLAC MRA signatories:
Australia and New Zealand: JAS-ANZ
Hong Kong, China: HKAS
Republic of Korea: KOLAS
Malaysia: Standards Malaysia
New Zealand: IANZ
Chinese Taipei: TAF
United States: A2LA
United States: ACLASS
United States: IAS
United States: L-A-B
United States: NVLAP
United States: PJLA
View APLAC Signatory Accreditation Bodies
Who benefits from this Arrangement?
The mutual acceptance of test data and calibration and inspection reports from laboratories and inspection bodies accredited by APLAC MRA signatories is a major step toward the reduction of technical barriers to trade in both the voluntary and mandatory sectors. Reducing the need for re-testing a product in importing countries can mean significant savings of time and money for exporters.
How can this Arrangement help my company?
The accreditation organizations that have signed this Mutual Recognition Arrangement have agreed to accredit laboratories and inspection bodies to meet requirements of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17025 on competence of testing and calibration laboratories, ISO/IEC 17020 for inspection bodies, and ISO 15189 for medical laboratories. They have also agreed to recognize the test reports, calibration certificates and inspection reports issued by laboratories accredited by the MRA signatories as being technically equivalent, to promote acceptance of these reports and certificates by users in their economies, and to investigate complaints resulting from reports and certificates.
The MRA promotes contacts and exchanges of information among its signatories. It also sets forth procedures to enhance and maintain confidence in the operation of accreditation systems for testing and calibration laboratories and, through accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025, confidence in the accuracy and credibility of test results and calibration certificates of accredited laboratories and of reports from accredited inspection bodies. When an accreditation organization applies to become a signatory of the MRA, it is visited by a team of assessors to determine whether it meets the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 for the operation of calibration and testing laboratory and inspection body accreditation systems. Organizations that have already signed the MRA are assessed at approximately four-year intervals to determine whether they are continuing to meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 and the MRA.
The Mutual Recognition Arrangement is one of the major achievements of APLAC, which was initiated in 1992 as a forum to enable accreditation organizations to share information and harmonize their procedures. APLAC was formally established with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by representatives of accreditation bodies from sixteen economies in 1995. Its governing body is a General Assembly, which meets annually. Its Secretariat is located in North Melbourne, Australia. APLAC is one of the five specialist regional bodies supporting the trade facilitation activities of the Subcommittee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (offsite link).
Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?
Yes. If you believe that a laboratory accreditation organization that is a signatory to the APLAC MRA has failed to comply with the MRA's provisions regarding mutual recognition, 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 help you get in touch with the people who can help you resolve your problem. When contacting us, please be aware that regulatory authorities in APLAC MRA signatory economies are not bound by the provisions of the APLAC MRA and may choose not to recognize the Arrangement.
How can I get more information?
The complete text of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) is available on the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's web site.
If you have questions about the MRA or how to use it, you can e-mail the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC), which will forward your message to the Commerce Department's Designated Monitoring Officer for the MRA. You can also contact the Designated Monitoring Officer directly at the following address:
Designated Monitoring Officer APLAC MRA
National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP)
National Institute of Standards and Technology
U.S. Department of Commerce
Other useful information is available on:
The web site of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) http://www.aplac.org/home.html, which contains general information about APLAC, its administrative structure and its current activities. It also contains information on how to contact each of the accreditation organizations that are signatories of the MRA.
The web site of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (offsite link), which contains information about APEC's history, its members, its goals and its current activities.
The web site of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) (offsite link), which contains information of laboratory accreditation programs worldwide.
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.