• John Luxton

The Minister of Commerce, Hon John Luxton and Sir Leon Brittan, Vice-President of the European Commission and His Excellency, the British High Commissioner, Mr Martin Williams, today signed the Agreement on Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment, Certificates and Markings between the European Community and New Zealand (MRA).

The MRA will provide a significant boost to two-way trade currently valued at over $1 billion for products covered by the Agreement. It will also open up markets to manufacturers for whom regulatory costs have previously made exporting uneconomic.

The Agreement will significantly reduce costs for New Zealand and European exporters.

The Agreement will facilitate trade by allowing conformity assessment (testing and certification) of products traded between Europe and New Zealand to be undertaken in the exporting country rather than have to be carried out at destination.

The Agreement will mean that businesses can have their products certified as in compliance with regulatory requirements more quickly and cheaply. The Agreement should also lead to lower prices and faster delivery times for customers while safeguarding consumer interests.

The Agreement covers the following regulated sectors; simple pressure equipment and machinery, low voltage electrical equipment, medical devices, telecommunications terminal equipment, electromagnetic compatibility, and Good Manufacturing Practice for pharmaceuticals. It also allows for other sectors to be added later.

Sir Leon said "as the world's largest trader, the EU is committed to encouraging an open trading system. Reducing technical barriers to trade is an important component in achieving this aim."

Mr Luxton said "the MRA with New Zealand is among the first Agreements of its kind to be concluded by the EU. It is a great step foward for our exporters. The fact that New Zealand had been able to conclude such an Agreement is a testimony to the high quality of the New Zealand standards and conformance infrastructure and its world class reputation."