A report published by the Australian Senate Economics References Committee into Non-Conforming Building Products was released in December 2018. Titled Non-conforming building products: the need for a coherent and robust regulatory regime, the report contains recommendations which are aimed at strengthening accountability and compliance as well as providing additional information to stakeholders. This will allow them to make more informed choices and ensure the development of a robust regulatory regime for Australian building materials.
While the Report takes a broad view of the issues faced by industry and government regulators, it recommended that where an organisation intends to import goods that have been deemed high-risk, the Australian Government require the importer, to conduct sampling and testing by a accredited authority (or an equivalent testing authority in another country that is a signatory to the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement).
This recommendation reflects the value of accreditation as a quality assurance tool and highlights the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) as a valuable tool to facilitate trade.
Main Roads Western Australia (Main Roads WA) is part of the WA Government’s Transport Portfolio.
To ensure all projects are delivered to the required quality standard, Main Roads requires that all testing be undertaken by NATA (Australia’s accreditation body) accredited laboratories, and undertakes audit testing through its internal material testing laboratories to provide confidence that the works meet specifications.
Main Roads has been accredited since 1985, when the Australian government required all publically funded road projects to be NATA accredited. Today, Main Roads has laboratory and testing capability in each region of the State with the capacity to also conduct equipment calibration. The calibration operation complements the testing side of the business by ensuring equipment used for testing also complies.
The primary objective for Main Roads seeking NATA accreditation is to maintain informed management of the whole design and construction process.
The Global Innovation Index (GII) provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 127 countries and economies around the world. The index is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The GII has gained international recognition, establishing itself as both a leading reference on innovation and a ‘tool for action’ for decision makers. It recognises the link between innovation as an engine for economic and social growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.
One of the 81 indicators used to measure a country’s innovation performance is the number of accredited certificates to the quality management system standard, ISO 9001.
The 2017 report can be accessed from the Global Innovation Index website.
Source: Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO (2017): The Global Innovation Index 2017: Innovation Feeding the World, Ithaca, Fontainebleau, and Geneva.
The World Health Organisation’s International Health Regulations have been developed to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. Economies are required to develop certain minimum core public health capacities. Access to accredited laboratories provides clear evidence of an economy’s sustainable ability to respond.
Further information is available on the WHO website.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) requests that accredited laboratories providing DNA testing services for visa or citizenship purposes provide potential clients with transparent information regarding DNA testing fees. This is particularly relevant in an international context as DNA testing fees may not necessarily include payment to the offshore DNA sample collection facility.
The DIBP advises visa applicants that they are responsible for payment of the costs for DNA testing themselves, but transparency about the fee structure can help avoid the situation where clients find that there are additional costs for DNA sample collection that they were not aware of initially.
Further information is available on the Department’s website.
A market survey covering North America and Europe conducted jointly by the International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA) and the International Confederation of Inspection and Certification Organisations (CEOC) found that 17% of various electrical home appliances verified through self-declaration of conformity (SDoC) showed safety-critical failures, resulting in a high risk of shock or fire. This compares to less than 1% for products with third-party accredited certification.
JAS-ANZ, the New Zealand and Australian Accreditation Body, supports PrimeSafe the regulatory authority for the safety of meat, seafood and pet food. A Food Safety Management Scheme (FSMS) supports PrimeSafe in it’s management of establishments’ compliance to the Victorian Meat Industry Act 1993, the Victorian Meat Industry Regulations 2015, the Seafood Safety Act 2003, and the Seafood Safety Regulations 2014 through accrediting conformity assessment bodies that audit the compliance of meat establishments to the prescribed standards.
The benefits to PrimeSafe from this arrangement are:
- Allows PrimeSafe to set overall policy requirements or detailed technical requirements yet rely on the CABs to evaluate compliance;
- Concentration of valuable resources on policy and scheme management issues;
- Reduced personnel costs related to audit activities by removing the need for PrimeSafe to employ and train its own audit personnel; and
- The elimination of duplicate audits, as the CAB can also audit against customer requirements in an integrated audit.
Further information is available on the PrimeSafe website.
The World Bank-GFDRR report Building Regulation for Resilience: Managing Risks for Safer Cities released in April 2016 outlines the benefits of strong and effective building regulatory frameworks. The report provides a resource to assist policy makers, governments, donor entities, as well as key private sector players in leveraging good-practice building regulation to underpin risk reduction strategies. It addresses vulnerability reduction in cities across the developing world and proposes to support disaster-prone countries in implementing effective regulatory reform.
The use of accredited testing, inspection and certification are referenced as tools to support local regulators and building control.
Pathology testing in Australia is carried out at both public and private laboratories. Partial reimbursement of the costs of medical testing is permitted under the universal public health insurance scheme in Australia (known as Medicare).
For reimbursement claims to be accepted, the pathology laboratory used must be an accredited pathology laboratory under the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth) (HI Act). One of the conditions of gaining this status is the maintenance of an accreditation by the National Association of Testing authorities (NATA), the relevant national accreditation body in Australia.
NATA have a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the federal Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) which endorses its accreditation role.
Medical testing (pathology) laboratories apply to NATA to be accredited in accordance with relevant guidelines issued by the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) which reflect the requirements of ISO 15189, Medical laboratories – Requirements for quality and competence. As a competent accreditation body NATA itself fulfils the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011, Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies.
Through this conformity assessment scheme the federal government of Australia controls the quality of medical testing laboratories indirectly through controlling the access to funding. Access is only granted after the laboratories meet accreditation requirements and demonstrate their adherence to relevant standards. The federal Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) do not directly accredit laboratories but instead rely upon the national technical accreditation system through NATA to achieve this outcome. This saves DoHA the direct expense of undertaking the accreditation service, and removes the Department from a conflict of interest that might be perceived if they were to accredit public health laboratories.
Further information is available on the Australian Department of Health website.
Regulation 37 Standards for testing
For the purposes of section 16(3)(a) of the Act the prescribed standards for the testing, analysis and diagnostic examination of any sample or specimen for the purpose of determining whether it is infected with a disease are:
- the standards relevant to that disease in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Diagnostic Procedures as approved by the Primary Industries Standing Committee as amended and in force from time to time;
- in any other case, the standards relevant to that disease in the Australian Standard Diagnostic Techniques for Animal Diseases as published by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management in 1993 as amended and in force from time to time.
For the purposes of section 16(4) of the Act the prescribed standard of accreditation for the facilities and operational practices of veterinary diagnostic laboratories is accreditation in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
Further information is available on the Victoria State Government website.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE or ECE) has published a Common Regulatory Framework for Equipment Used in Environments with an Explosive Atmosphere 2011 requiring the use of accredited conformity assessment bodies.
Part 4 – Common Regulatory Objectives, Recognition of conformity assessment bodies
The accreditation of conformity assessment bodies and test laboratories has to follow the applicable ISO/IEC International Standards. The accreditation body has to be member of International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation/International Accreditation Forum (ILAC/IAF). One member of the assessor team needs competence in the field of explosion protection.
Certificates have to be in line with ISO System No. 5 requirements of the applicable ISO/IEC Guide
Certificates have to be in line with ISO System No. 5 requirements of the applicable ISO/IEC Guide
Further information is available on the UNECE website.
Operating a risk-based system of audits, where, ‘the frequency of audits for licensees is set in line with the level of risk inherent in the product processed at the facility. The greater the assessed risk, the greater the number of audits required’, The Prime Safe scheme in the Australian state of Victoria works across all areas of the meat, poultry and seafood supply chain.
The scheme also recognises the benefit of certification to ISO 9001 as, ‘Any meat processing facility subject to a quarterly audit schedule and has incorporated into its operations an accredited ISO 9001:2008 quality assurance system can have their audit frequency adjusted to a biannual audit schedule (subject to PrimeSafe approval)’.
PRAISE is a project co-funded by the European Commission and implemented by European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) on Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees (PRAISE). The project aims to advance work-related Road Safety Management and provide the know-how to employers who have to take on that challenge. It also aims to present the work-related road safety standards of EU Member States and carry out advocacy work at the EU level: work-related road safety is an area of road safety policy that clearly needs renewed political commitment.
Their 2012 report ‘Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees: Work Related Road Safety Management Programmes’ stated that, ‘ISO 39001… will provide a useful framework for the continual improvement of road safety work.’
As part of Pillar 1 on Road Safety management, the UN’s Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 Activity 3 is to, ‘Develop a national strategy (at cabinet or ministerial level) coordinated by the lead agency ‘promoting road safety management initiatives such as the new ISO traffic safety management standard ISO 39001’.
This global plan was set up by the UN General Assembly under resolution A/RES58/289 on “Improving global road safety”, a task taken forward by the World Health Organisation.
The NSW Food Authority is the NSW government agency responsible for regulating food production and food safety throughout the state. The Authority has an obligation under the Food Act 2003 and Food Regulation 2010 to conduct audits in certain licensed food businesses
The Authority has developed a Regulatory Food Safety Auditor System to approve persons other than Authority employees to conduct regulatory food safety audits of licensed food businesses in NSW. These third-party auditors have numerous requirements to fulfil before they can be accepted
The ISO website ‘Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy‘ references a wide range of instances where different standards are used to deliver food safety policy.
Leading food standards include ISO 22000, Food safety management systems — Requirements for any organization in the food chain and ISO 22005, Traceability in the feed and food chain — General principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation.
The work of the ISO Technical Committee responsible for food safety standards (TC 34) has been a key contributor to the CODEX International Food Standards, with over 100 standards generated by TC 34 endorsed by CODEX.
Further information from the ISO website
The ISO website ‘Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy‘ references a wide range of instances where different standards are used to deliver environmental policy.
Leading standards include ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard and ISO 50001 Energy Management System standard, as well as standards used to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere (ISO 14064 series & ISO 14065).
These standards have been used in a variety of mandatory and voluntary schemes from carbon trading to sustainable development policy.
Further information from the ISO website
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement, released on November 5th 2015, between twelve Pacific Rim countries. The agreement’s goal is to promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labour and environmental protections.
Accreditation, recognised by existing regional and international mutual recognition Arrangements (the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA) is referenced as being as a key measure to support trade through the removal of technical barriers.
The twelve Pacific-rim countries include Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and the USA.
A study carried out by ISO’s Technical Committees to identify whether standards play a role in preventing accidental fatalities, revealed that country-level participation in the ISO’s technical committees – the group of experts that develops standards – showed that a 1 per cent increase in technical committee participation was associated with a 0.19% decrease in accidental deaths.
This short infographic provides data and examples to demonstrate the impact of the National Quality Infrastructure in terms of
- Enhanced Competitiveness
- Reduced Testing & Certification Burden
- Expanded and Open Markets
- Increased Innovation & Technology Diffusion
- Improved Efficiency
- Increased Productivity Gains
- Safety, Health, Environmental Application
A more detailed description of how the QI enhances competition is available at https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/competitiveness/brief/qi
This study, which resulted from a research project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aimed to assess the impacts that quality services contribute to improve the understanding at the political, entrepreneurial and academic levels about the relevance of quality infrastructures to the functioning of innovation systems, how they enhance the performance of economic agents and improve the outcomes of social, economic and environmental policies.
The key objectives aimed to identify the following positive areas:
- the identification of the range of positive and negative effects that they have in societies;
- to advise policy makers on how the accomplishment of their strategic goals may be facilitated through the development of quality services;
- To raise awareness of consumers, firms and industries about the existence of such an institutional complex, i.e. how it shall be used as a platform where various economic agents are to participate and interact in order to address to a multitude of social, economic and environmental challenges;
- to learn ways of improving the functioning of the existing quality infrastructure.
A copy of the report is available on the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) website.
The National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) is Australia’s national authority for the accreditation of laboratories and producers of reference materials, and a peak body for the accreditation of inspection bodies and proficiency testing scheme providers. It commissioned the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to conduct research to evaluate the economic value of accreditation focused on NATA’s five sectors of accreditation: Inspection, Infrastructure, Calibration, Life Sciences and Legal and Clinical.
It analyses the attributes of NATA accreditation distributed across five key themes exploring the benefits of NATA accreditation – Importance of Recognition, Standards and Quality, Efficiency and Productivity, Innovation, and Organisational Culture.
The report concludes that accreditation in Australia provides indirect but real benefits for the community and consumers of intermediate and final goods and services. This research report highlights the measurable and intangible attributes of NATA accreditation as a contributor to the Australian economy. Whilst the estimated measurable economic worth represents a value of between AUD $315m and AUD $421m, to place a value on the intangible attributes of accreditation is impossible as the services NATA provides are intrinsically woven within the fabric of the Australian business, economy, and society.
A copy of the report is available here.
Author: R Agarwal, R Green, C Bajada – Australia, University of Technology Sydney
Standardisation and standards have often been perceived as a contradiction to innovation. This report provide conceptual arguments and empirical evidence that standardisation as such and standards can be used as to promote innovation especially in three different areas. After a brief section on the general economic functions of standards, the relationship between research and standardisation is examined by first showing both standardization as a technology transfer channel and standards as enablers and facilitators for research. The second area focuses on the difficult but promising issue of transferring intellectual property rights (IPR) into standards, and shows how this can be beneficial both for IPR holders and standards implementers. The third newly emerging field concerns the role of standards and standardization in procurement processes, which are more and more forced to address and promote innovation. In the final chapter, the results are summarised and recommendations for policy makers are derived.
A copy of the report is available on the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) website.
Author: Knut Blind, TU Berlin, Rotterdam School of Management and Fraunhofer FOKUS
A publication titled “Good practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 quality management systems” has been released by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The report presents the lessons learnt and good practices in applying Market Surveillance methodology to monitor the effectiveness of ISO 9001 certification in manufacturing enterprises and to evaluate the performance of respective accredited certification bodies.
The report concludes that the proper use of ISO 9001–based quality management systems assists developing countries in promoting sustainable trade, thereby helping them achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the 2030 development agenda.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the UNIDO website.
Reducing unnecessary trade costs is an important aspect of International Regulatory Co-operation (IRC). But trade costs are only one of the many considerations that countries take into account when engaging in bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral efforts to address non-tariff measures that are related to differences in regulations. They are also concerned about pursuing domestic regulatory objectives. This report develops an analytical framework to help understand the trade-offs between trade costs and domestic regulatory objectives that will determine outcomes of IRC. It shows the possible scope and landing zones of IRC initiatives, ranging from simple information exchange to negotiations to harmonize regulations between countries. The analytical approach is based on economic game theory and provides a basis for regulators and trade negotiators to determine which specific IRC approach would be promising to pursue.
The report states that the ILAC and IAF global arrangements provide the platform for trade cost reductions. A full copy of the report is available from the OECD website.
ILAC and IAF, the global accreditation associations, have contributed to research conducted by OECD to analyse the impact of international organisations (IOs) in supporting regulatory co-operation. The research 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
- 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 ILAC and 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.
While there is a substantial body of literature on the economic theory of international standards, and their presumed effects, much less is known about how international standards work in practice. This paper surveys empirical studies investigating the relationship between international standards and trade. The main focus is on econometric studies using secondary data on international standards and trade, but surveys and some of the literature investigating the relationship between standards and other economic measures, such as productivity, growth and welfare are also summarised.
The paper sets out some conclusions that can be drawn from the econometric studies that have sought to estimate the relationship between international standards and trade:
- In most studies, when exporting countries use international standards, this has in most cases a positive (or at least neutral) effect on their export performance.
- When exporting countries use national standards (i.e. standards specific to country x), that may lead to superior export performance by x.
- When the importing countries also adopt international standards, the most common effect is also to increase imports. The exceptions can in part be explained.
- When the importing country uses national standards, the results are more diffuse. For studies that relate exclusively to voluntary standards, the effects are distributed quite evenly. For studies that relate to regulations (i.e. mandatory standards), the effects on imports tend to be negative.
A full copy of the report is available from the OECD website.
This report provides a comprehensive account of quality systems for private sector development: what works on the ground and what doesn’t, and why. It explains why quality and standards matter for export growth, productivity, industrial upgrading, and diffusion of innovation, all central ingredients in improving economic growth and generating real gains in poverty reduction. The report examines the diversity of institutions, linkages, and arrangements involved in quality systems, identifying success factors and obstacles in the quality strategies of particular countries. A portion of the volume is devoted to experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with a great deal at stake in the drive to improve quality. Policy makers in Latin America and throughout the developing world will find Quality Systems and Standards for a Competitive Edge to be a valuable tool for meeting the challenges of building trade competitiveness in the new global economy.
A full copy of the report is available on the World Bank website.
In many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA), the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) does not support business competitiveness, though this is one of its functions in organization for economic co-operation and development countries. In most of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, it even impedes competitiveness. The most common economic benefits of adopting standards include increased productive and innovative efficiency. Standards lead to economies of scale, allowing suppliers to achieve lower costs per unit by producing large, homogeneous batches of products. Standards spur and disseminate innovation, solve coordination failures, and facilitate the development of profitable networks. Participation in world trade increasingly requires that suppliers comply with standards determined by lead buyers in global value chains. The nature of participation in the global economy has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Rarely do producers turn raw materials into final products and sell them directly to customers. Improving the quality of goods and services and diversifying into sectors where quality matters can be a sustainable source of global competitiveness. Some of the productive tasks associated with high-quality goods have high learning and technological externalities. In those sectors, producers tend to form tight relationships with global buyers who transfer their knowledge and support the producers’ quality-upgrading processes. Diversifying into a broad range of sectors also reduces macroeconomic volatility, but quality upgrading becomes necessary to enter new sectors that compete on quality.
A full copy of the report is available on the World Bank website.
Citation “Racine, Jean-Louis. 2011. Harnessing Quality for Global Competitiveness in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. World Bank. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/2305 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) reforms are an important part of broader efforts aimed at enhancing trade and investment opportunities, opening markets for new innovative products, and improving the business environment. As demand to access new markets and compete with higher quality products rises, the World Bank Group is committed to supporting government’s efforts to build a more harmonized and integrated NQI. This leaflet sets out how the World Bank can support the development of standards, accreditation and metrology systems to boost economic performance and cross-border investment decisions.
A full copy of the leaflet is available here. World Bank NQI Leaflet
Standards define how products, processes, and people interact with each other and their environments. They enhance competitiveness by offering proof that products and services adhere to requirements of governments or the marketplace. When used effectively, they facilitate international trade and contribute to technology upgrading and absorption. This brief discusses the importance, the central elements, and constraints to success of national quality infrastructure.
A full copy of the policy document is available on the World Bank website.
This report draws on UNECE assessment models and incorporates the lessons learnt from the needs assessment studies on Belarus and Kazakhstan, carried out by the UNECE secretariat in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The methodology is meant to bring to the fore:
- A common understanding of key regulatory and procedural barriers to trade. While actors may have a broadly shared intuitive view of such obstacles, they may differ at the technical level when it comes to attributing causes to each obstacle and to estimating the magnitude of its impact.
- A common approach to addressing the identified barriers in a manner that is responsive to the specific needs of each country and every actor in the international trade supply chain.
- Conflicting policy objectives related to trade development and trade facilitation.
- Procedures and regulations that could be improved through systematic:
- Simplification – the elimination of all unnecessary elements and duplication in formalities, processes and procedures;
- Harmonization – the alignment of national formalities, procedures, documents, information, and operations with acceptable international commercial norms, practices and recommendations.
- Standardization – the implementation of internationally recognized formats for procedures, as well as documentary and information requirements.
- Capacity shortfalls in the existing trade support institutional framework (understood as comprising infrastructure, trade support organizations and state agencies, including those involved in supporting quality control), which could be improved through targeted investments.
- Shortcomings in existing public-private sector consultative mechanisms related to the development and implementation of regulatory policies
A special focus is also given to assessing national standardization policies, technical regulations, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology (SQAM) system, in terms of its capacity to contribute to a conducive trading environment where regulatory and procedural barriers are reduced to a minimum.
A full copy of the report is available on the UNECE website.
This report gathers together OECD working papers on the tools, governance and institutions of better regulation and their impact on policy outcomes. It includes both technical and analytical material, prepared by staff and experts in the field. Together, the papers provide valuable context and background for OECD publications on regulatory policy and governance.
The paper relies on an empirical stocktaking of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) among selected OECD countries, the systematic review of mutual recognition clauses in trade agreements, case studies of the specific experience of the EU internal market, the Trans-Tasman arrangement, and the MRA between the US and the EU, and an extensive review of the literature. The report references the ILAC MRA and the IAF MLA as case studies.
A full report is available on the OECD website.
Anabela Correia de Brito, Céline Kauffmann, Jacques Pelkmans
This research paper aims to explore the relationship between ISO 9000 certification and organisational performance by developing an ISO 9000 relationship model.
Mei Feng, Milé Terziovski, Danny Samson, (2008) “Relationship of ISO 9001:2000 quality system certification with operational and business performance: A survey in Australia and New Zealand‐based manufacturing and service companies“, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 Iss: 1, pp.22 – 37
Further, building on the theory of performance frontiers, we investigate these relationships across plants located in different economic regions of the world (plants are classified into emerging, developing and industrialized regions). We suggest that recent emphasis on these environmental initiatives has been greatest among plants located in emerging economies, compared to their counterparts in industrialized and developing nations. In addition, we contend that the influence of these initiatives is greatest for plants located in emerging and developing economies when compared to plants in industrialized nations. These notions are tested with data collected from 1211 plants located in these three economic regions. Overall, this study contributes to the investigation of strategies for sustainable business development, highlighting important implications for both theory and practice.
Tobias Schoenherr, The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, Department of Supply Chain Management, USA
‘The role of environmental management in sustainable business development: A multi-country investigation‘, International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 140, Issue 1, November 2012, Pages 116–128
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Economic Research and Statistics Division produced the report ‘International Standards and the WTO TBT Agreement: Improving Governance for Regulatory Alignment‘ (Erik Wijkström and Devin McDaniels, WTO, 19 March 2013), with some key points on the value of key conformity assessment tools such as ISO standards and ILAC accreditation.
Of particular interest as regards conformity assessment is 3.1.1, the section on Specific Trade Concerns, ‘One of the core functions of the TBT Committee is acting as a forum to address trade issues – these are referred to as “Specific Trade Concerns” (STCs). These are concerns that one or several Members have with the design or implementation of another Member’s measure. An analysis of the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Committee’s records shows that about one third of all STCs raised in the TBT Committee are associated in one way or another with the subject of international standards. By “associated” we mean that international standards have been mentioned by a delegation in the discussion of a particular trade concern – either by reference to a specific body or organization, or through general reference to the existence (or non-existence) of some source of international guidance.’
‘While over forty different bodies or organizations are mentioned, a number of them recur frequently in discussion. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is mentioned in 30% of STCs associated with international standards; the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) in 10%.’
The report gives a number of examples of the kind of problem, including: ‘Lead in pottery. The European Union objected to a Mexican draft standard for glazed pottery, ceramics and porcelain, which mandated more stringent lead and cadmium limits than those laid down in the relevant international ISO standards (ISO 6486-1/2). Specifically, the European Union was concerned that Mexican authorities would no longer accept test results accompanying EU ceramic tableware conducted in compliance with these ISO standards. Mexico explained that while its draft standard was partially based on ISO standards, it deviated in certain aspects due to a greater level of health protection required by Mexico, and due to the circumstances of Mexico as a developing country.’
The conclusion of this kind of problem is that ‘The vast majority (around 90%) relate to some form of “challenge” on international standards (from one Member to another). The tone of the discussions may range from a polite request for clarification about the use or non-use of international standards in a measure, to a direct accusation that a Member is not following a specific (and in their view relevant) international standard and therefore violating a WTO discipline.’
The use of international standards and systems in world trade, such as ISO and ILAC which stick to the ‘Six Principles’ of Transparency, Openness, Impartiality and Consensus, Effectiveness and Relevance, Coherence and Development Dimension, would reduce the instances of the STCs.
Standards are a vital component in the conformity assessment arsenal to address public policy issues. International standards developed by consensus used in conformity assessment are in two key categories:
- The standards on which assessment is based, whether for products & services or process (management system standards)
- The standards which guide many of the key processes, such as certification, accreditation, inspection, etc. More of details of these standards, referred to as the ISO CASCO Toolkit can be found here.
A number of major research reports have been produced in a number of economies which help quantify and explain the contribution standards makes to these economies. These reports are:
- The Economic Benefits of Standardisation (2012) Standards Australia
- The Economic Benefits of Standards to New Zealand (2011), Report to The Standards Council of New Zealand and The Building Research Association of New Zealand
- The Economics of Standardization: An Update (2010) to The Economics of Standardization (2000) UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- The Economic Impact of Standardization: Technological Change, Standards Growth in France (2009) AFNOR
- Economic Value of Standardization (2007) Standards Council of Canada
- June 2015: The Economic Contribution of Standards to the UK Economy, UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- Economic benefits of standardization Part A: Benefits for business; Part B: Benefits for the economy as a whole (2000) DIN German Institute for Standardization
Companies use standards as a tool to signal their investments in quality upgrading and performance. The authors argue that the impact of this signal depends on the trust in the accreditation system and the development status of a country. Representing the workhorse of research in international trade, the authors use a gravity model to examine the trade effects of ISO 9000 diffusion and cooperation in accreditation. The model is estimated by applying a country-pair fixed effects regression approach with instrumental variables and multilateral resistance terms to a panel data set covering a 13-year period from 1999 to 2012. This allows them to test their hypotheses with respect to the moderating role of international cooperation in accreditation on the trade effects of ISO 9000 diffusion. They show that certification promotes trade and that signatories to the Multilateral Recognition Arrangement of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF MLA) trade significantly more. The IAF MLA is of particular importance to the trade among developing countries. For policy makers, our results highlight the importance of support for accreditation institutions in developing countries.
A full copy of the report is available from the Research Gate website.
Authors: Axel Mangelsdorf, Knut Blind, Jakob Pohlisch
Regulators can rely on ISO standards as a solid base on which to create public policy that helps further SDG goals such as human rights, water and energy efficiency, public health, and more. Recognized the world over, International Standards also help governments achieve their national and international commitments. Read more.
An efficient and effective quality and standards ecosystem—also referred to as quality infrastructure (QI)—is an essential ingredient for competitiveness, access to new markets, productivity improvement, innovation of new products, and environmental protection, as well as health and safety of populations. In short, QI is not only key to a country’s growth, but also essential in creating a safer, cleaner, and more equitable and well-integrated world.
The World Bank Group recognises the importance of QI as an ecosystem and has produced a comprehensive QI diagnostics and reform guide with input from ILAC and IAF. The guide provides help to countries to develop or strengthen their own quality and standards ecosystems—to diagnose, build, and reform the complex elements of an effective, modern QI. It also references the UK study into the impact of accreditation.
The guide can be downloaded from the World Bank website.
Setting up a Quality Infrastructure System is one of the most positive and practical steps that a developing nation can take on the path forward to developing a thriving economy as a basis for prosperity, health and well-being.
UNIDO published this short video to set out the fundamental principles of developing a national quality infrastructure to ensure that the system contributes to governmental policy objectives in areas including industrial development, trade competitiveness in global markets, the efficient use of natural and human resources, food safety, health, the environment and climate change.
To support World Accreditation Day 2018, a short video was produced to demonstrate how accreditation delivers a safer world. The expectation of safe workplaces, safe products, safe transport, safe food, in fact all aspects of our lives is universally shared. Statistics however show that the expectation is not being matched by the reality.
A series of short case study videos can also be viewed on the ILAC / IAF YouTube channel.
ISO 13485:2016 – Medical devices – A practical guide has been authored by technical experts of ISO/TC 210. The handbook is intended to guide organizations in the development, implementation and maintenance of their quality management system in accordance with ISO 13485. Organizations active in the medical device sector, such as manufacturers, importers, distributors, service providers, certification bodies or regulatory bodies, can benefit from this publication.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), has updated its trade recommendations to include references national accreditation systems and the global arrangements. UNECE Working Party 6 on Regulatory Cooperation & Standardization Policies which works to:
- Promote the use of standards by policy-makers and business as a tool for reducing technical barriers to trade, promote increased resilience to disasters, foster innovation and good governance
- Promote the use of standards in the implementation of UN-wide goals, including the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Sendai framework for action
Sixteen UNECE recommendations have been adopted to address standardization and regulatory issues. They set out good practice regarding Regulatory cooperation, Metrology, Standards and Norms, Conformity assessment, and Market surveillance.
While these recommendations are not binding and do not aim at rigidly aligning technical regulations across countries, they are used to encourage policy makers to base their regulations on international standards to provide a common denominator to the norms that apply in different markets.
All sixteen recommendations can be downloaded from the UNECE website.
The recommendations that reference accreditation are:
Recommendation G: Acceptance of Conformity Assessment Results
ISO/CASCO has published a new brochure describing how “ISO Technical Committees (ISO/TCs) are often required to choose between developing requirements for a management system for an organisation’s activities, or developing requirements for the competence of an organisation to carry out its activities”.
Not only does this document assist ISO/TCs in understanding the difference between the two standards, but it is also helpful for organisations in the process of deciding whether to implement a management system or a competency based system. In addition, the brochure indicates the benefits and values of meeting either set of requirements.
The ISO/CASCO document – Frequency Asked Questions: Competency or Management System Based Standards?” is available here.
ISO has published a guide for SME’s wishing to implement a quality management system (QMS), providing practical advice and concrete examples tailored specifically for small businesses. A copy of the guidance is available from the ISO website.
UNIDO has published a briefing note to set out how setting up a Quality Infrastructure System can be one of the most positive and practical steps that a developing nation can take on the path forward to developing a thriving economy as a basis for prosperity, health and well-being. A Quality Infrastructure is a system contributing to governmental policy objectives in areas including industrial development, trade competitiveness in global markets, efficient use of natural and human resources, food safety, health, the environment and climate change.
Download a copy of the briefing note from the UNIDO website.
UNIDO has published a new brochure which highlights the contribution of accredited conformity assessment services to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNIDO’s vision to address today’s economic, social and environmental challenges is enshrined in the Lima Declaration, adopted by UNIDO Member States in December 2013. On this basis, UNIDO pursues “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development” to harness industry’s full potential to contribute to lasting prosperity for all.
17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 associated targets constitute the core of the UNIDO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These provide a new development framework that seeks to transform the world and guide all global, regional and national development endeavours for the next 15 years. UNIDO’s programmatic approach is guided by three interrelated thematic priorities: creating shared prosperity, advancing economic competitiveness, and safeguarding the environment.
Maintaining strategic partnerships and technical cooperations, together with the use of standards and compliance related activities, also form an important part of UNIDO’s approach. The relationship between UNIDO, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and ILAC is one such partnership. This strategic partnership in the field of accreditation enables UNIDO, IAF and ILAC to coordinate activities in complementary and mutually supportive areas of operation, in order to enhance the impact of industrial development on economic growth.
A copy of the brochure is available on the UNIDO website.
The significance of an accreditation system for trade and the economy, as well as practical advice for the establishment of accreditation bodies, are the focus of a newly released publication titled, “Establishing accreditation in developing economies – A guide to opening the door for global trade”.
Prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), the publication was launched at the ILAC – IAF joint General Assembly. The guide aims to support the common goal of “tested, inspected or certified once and accepted everywhere”.
It is comprised of two parts. The first part focuses on the need for accreditation and the benefits that an accreditation system can bring to good governance. It provides policymakers with a framework for establishing an accreditation body or partnering with neighbouring economies to form a shared system, which can bring an economy closer to its trading partners through mutually recognized arrangements of accreditation.
The second part offers comprehensive practical advice and building blocks to those who are tasked with establishing an accreditation body. It presents information on the essential operational requirements for accreditation bodies, and outlines available resources, as well as potential challenges. Case studies then follow to offer an illustration of practical applications of the guidance provided in the publication.
A copy of the brochure is available on the UNIDO website.
As someone who is involved in the selection of suppliers and, possibly, responsible for making purchasing decisions, you may have seen or used products and services that are promoted using reference to ISO 9001:2015. This informative text provides some answers to these questions and will inform you about how you can get the most out of using ISO 9001 as a supply chain tool.
A full copy of the brochure is available from the ISO website.
UNIDO’s Trade Capacity Building Branch has published a briefing paper to set out how it can support Developing Economies develop the effective building blocks of using accredited testing, inspection and certification, using hamonized standards, in order to boost trade.
Download a copy of the briefing from the UNIDO website.
A short video to show how standards, metrology and accreditation can help sustainable development in Developing economies.
Click to view.
Accreditation is a tool to demonstrate the competence of medical laboratories and ensure the delivery of timely, accurate and reliable results. Read more…
Accredited laboratories, inspection bodies, and certification bodies play a key role in both the provision of traditional energy sources and the development of renewables. Energy providers rely on accurate testing to monitor a range of areas from measuring flow and pressure to production output levels. Inspections are carried out to ensure that installations are safe. While certification demonstrates that providers have the appropriate processes and procedures in place to deliver the products and services.
Accredited testing, inspection and certification supports the provision of safe food and clean drinking water. Read more..
Regulators are increasingly relying on independent third party declarations of compliance to support their enforcement and monitoring activities.
The ILAC MRA and the IAF MLA remove the need for products and services to undergo additional tests, inspections and certification in each country where they are sold. These Arrangements remove technical barriers and therefore support cross-border trade.
The ILAC MRA supports international trade by promoting international confidence and acceptance of accredited laboratory data and inspection body data. Technical barriers to trade, such as the retesting of products, each time they enter a new economy would be reduced.
SGS has created a portfolio of solutions to support compliance with regulatory requirements, enhance government revenue, facilitate trade, support efficiency and promote good governance along with sustainable development.