More streamlined certification processes, the removal of technical barriers, and faster time to market – these are some of the benefits that Singapore companies have enjoyed under an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA).
Developed by the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (APEC TEL), the MRA for conformity assessment of telecommunications equipment is based on the APEC guiding principle that rules and procedures affecting the acceptance of goods and services between markets should be harmonised as far as possible on the basis of international standards.
The MRA is a positive step in improving the process of trade in telecommunications equipment - much simpler, faster and cheaper.
Such harmonisation, together with continued cooperation on technical infrastructure development, can help businesses reduce the administrative and compliance costs involved in obtaining access to international markets.
In line with this, the APEC TEL MRA, the world’s first multi-lateral MRA, was introduced in July 1999. A decade on, it continues to benefit manufacturers, exporters, distributors, regulators and, ultimately the consumers by reducing the cost of getting a product approved and by reducing the time to market.
“There are still vast opportunities for the growth of businesses in APEC. Therefore, it is important that we continue to strengthen our competitiveness by eliminating technical barriers to trade and simplifying regulatory processes,” said Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive & Director-General (Telecoms), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
The MRA preparation has encouraged certification bodies to streamline their existing certification processes and promoted the exchange of best-practice information on certification among participating economies, said Mr Richard Hong, Senior Vice President, Industry Service, for TUV SUD PSB. Ultimately, these “best practices” mean safer and more effective products for consumers.
For international manufacturing and trading companies, the MRA has reduced the number of hurdles for approvals, provided local access for exporting entities (by allowing in-country testing) and created the incentive to design products to international standards. It has also helped to foster creative solutions by enabling new products and devices to gain access to markets more quickly.
According to Lord John Edgecumbe Shazell, Immediate Past President of the Association of Telecommunications Industry of Singapore (ATiS), feedback on the APEC TEL MRA has been positive. “The MRA is a positive step in improving the process of trade in telecommunications equipment - much simpler, faster and cheaper," he said.
With time-to-market a big priority in an increasingly competitive environment, the benefits of the APEC TEL MRA are clear. “Economic challenges in the recent years have made companies re-think about the way they do business. The MRA allows companies to have the first mover advantage,” said Mr Darwin Ho, Vice President of ATiS.
Mr James Wong, Technical Regulations Engineering Programme Manager for South & South-East Asian Countries, Hewlett Packard, agreed. “We expect our local operations to benefit significantly (from the APEC TEL MRA) in terms of time and cost,” he said.