The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) has actively contributed to the recent publication of reports from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that confirm how the international accreditation system supports regulatory co-operation and cross-border trade.
The role of International Organisations
Research conducted by OECD identified that International Organisations (IOs) play a growing role as standard setting bodies in supporting regulatory co-operation, with evidence showing that IOs contribute to International Regulatory Co-operation (IRC) by:
- offering platforms for continuous dialogue on regulatory issues;
- facilitating the comparability of approaches and practices;
- providing member countries with flexible mechanisms to identify and adapt to new and emerging regulatory areas or issues;
- contributing to the development of a common regulatory language; and
- developing international legal and policy instruments.
The OECD gathered unique evidence from 50 international organisations on their governance, operational modalities, rule-making practices and approaches to assessing implementation and impacts, which is presented in the report International Regulatory Co-operation: the Role of International Organisations in Fostering Better Rules of Globalisation (launched 2 November 2016). This comparative analysis takes into account the diversity of mandates, expertise and strengths of the 50 participating IOs.
By establishing the international accreditation arrangements based on the mutual recognition of certificates and reports issued by conformity assessment bodies, the development of common rules and policies, and the harmonising of accreditation practices, the report identified that the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF) play a growing role in supporting regulatory co-operation.
This OECD work on IRC and IOs is part of a broad study into the various mechanisms available to governments to promote regulatory co-operation, and their benefits and challenges. A full copy of the report is available from the OECD website.
Global accreditation: Reducing trade costs
UKAS (through ILAC and IAF) and Independent International Organisation for Certification (IIOC) also provided input into a separate OECD report. Research was conducted to investigate whether appropriate accredited conformity assessment systems can reduce trade costs, while balancing national regulatory objectives. The report cites the ILAC and IAF global arrangements, and states that they can help to reduce conformity assessment costs by allowing exporters to rely on their own countries conformity assessment bodies, thereby avoiding duplications in laboratory testing, shipment of samples to the destination country’s bodies and related costs in expenditures and time delays.
The report, which is available on the OECD website, also states that expansion of the global accreditation arrangements would further reduce trade costs.
UNIDO: Supporting the expansion of accreditation systems
To support this expansion, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, has recently published two documents:
A guide to opening the door to international trade – setting up accreditation bodies in Developing Countries
How accreditation can support UNIDO achieve its Global Sustainable Development Goals