• John Luxton

New Zealand and the European Union have initialled the main text of a Mutual Recognition Agreement on Conformity Assessment - the first of its kind in the world.

The Agreement has the potential to deliver significant benefits to New Zealand industries. It will allow conformity assessment (ie testing and certification) of exported products to be undertaken in New Zealand rather than Europe.

In a joint announcement of the initially of the text today, the Minister of Commerce, Hon John Luxton, and Minister for Trade Negotiations, Hon Philip Burdon, said that this was a very significant day for New Zealand and the European Union. The Agreement will enhance the bilateral relationship between New Zealand and the EU.

This Agreement is recognition of the world class nature of the New Zealand standards and conformity assessment infrastructure, they said.

For New Zealand businesses exporting to Europe, the time and cost involved in having a product cleared for placement on the market could be significantly reduced. Reducing costs to businesses will increase our international competitiveness, they added.

For customers there will be potentially lower prices and faster delivery without affecting consumer safeguards provided by regulatory controls presently in place.

This Agreement will open market opportunities that have not previously existed for some manufacturers for whom these costs have precluded export to Europe. The Agreement will cover the following regulated sectors: simple pressure equipment; machinery; low voltage electrical equipment; medical devices; telecommunications terminal equipment; electromagnetic compatibility and good manufacturing practice for pharmaceuticals. The Agreement will also allow other sectors (such as aircraft air worthiness) to be added at a later date.

The next step will be for the final text of the draft Agreement to be approved and signed by the New Zealand and European Union authorities, after which the Agreement will enter into force.