Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) provide for the recognition of testing, certification, and inspections. New Zealand currently has MRAs with Australia, the European Union, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and one which is applicable across the 21 member economies of APEC.
All Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) owe their existence to the trade facilitation objectives of the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. The TBT seeks to ensure that regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles, while also providing members with the right to implement measures to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of human health and safety, or the environment
The principle of an MRA is to provide for the recognition of testing, certification (approvals), and inspections (including both batch and factory inspections). They establish that products that are tested or certified to meet the requirements of the destination market can be assessed in the market of manufacture.
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) and the New Zealand – China Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) MRA are based on ‘Market to Market’ and risk management principles.
Below is a list of current MRAs.
Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA)
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA) is a market-to-market (equivalence) MRA, allowing the sale of a product in one partner’s market based only on the product’s saleability in the other partner’s market.
In reality however, the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) based inter-regulatory recognition vehicles, the common Standards, and the recognised accreditation and approval regimes actually drive the Trans-Tasman EE marketplace by creating a de facto Single Economic Market (SEM) without the burden of any rules of origin.
Most MRAs do not permit a product that is saleable in one jurisdiction to be sold in another jurisdiction simply on its compliance in the first.
The TTMRA, through its application only to products directly traded between the two partners and its legislative construction, is a somewhat atypical and unique form of MRA. In practise it creates proof of compliance with the partner’s legislation within certain prescribed limitations. It might be described as conveying a privilege rather than a right as is usually the function of other MRAs. The TTMRA is enacted through the TTMRA Act 1997 in New Zealand and mirroring legislation in the States and Territories of Australia.
Because the TTMRA facilitates trade it plays an important part in the development of a trans-Tasman SEM. Combined with the inter-regulatory recognition, the regime demonstrates how a high-level form of agreement between regulators creates, and facilitates, the marketplace’s operation.
It is interesting to note that in the Trans-Tasman market, the TTMRA is not always applied as might be expected. Manufacturers in Australia commonly have their products tested in New Zealand to Australian Standards for sale in Australia simply because the testing is cheaper or faster. This in turn demonstrates how mutual recognition operates to assist the markets to develop.
The European Union MRA
The European Union (EU) – New Zealand Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) was the first substantial trade facilitating agreement to be negotiated applying to Electrical and Electronic (EE) products. Its coverage includes electromagnetic