June 28, 2017
RusAccreditation joined the Mutual Recognition Arrangement of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC MRA). This should help Russian exporters, since now the results of the research of accredited national laboratories will be recognized by other member countries, of this organization. However, additional bilateral agreements on certain types of products will be required to eliminate trade barriers and harmonize regulatory regimes.
The Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation has 39 accreditation agencies from 26 countries, including China, the United States, Canada, India, Iran, Australia and Mexico. As Savva Shipov, the Deputy Head of the Ministry of Economy, explained yesterday, joining APLAC should facilitate Russian exporters access to foreign markets, since it will allow assessing the conformity of product quality in the RF without exporting samples for testing abroad. First of all, small and medium-sized companies should benefit from this, because the "on-site" assessment of compliance is not only a long process, but also an expensive one. In general, the reform of the accreditation system, indented to harmonize the Russian legislation with the requirements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), began about six years ago.
The regulations for the use of APLAC MRA mark by accredited laboratories will be prepared by the end of the summer, said the Head of RusAccreditation Alexey Khersontsev. According to his assessment, 20-30% of Russian testing and calibration laboratories can show interest in obtaining such accreditation. The use of the mark implies enhanced responsibility and additional obligations for the participants, Mr. Shipov emphasized.
However, membership in APLAC does not automatically grant Russian certified products access to foreign markets, because for each country and group of goods there is its own regulatory order. In most countries, including Russia, compliance certificates are issued by national certification agencies which may accept or may not accept test reports conducted by accredited laboratories in other countries. Therefore, the next step after joining APLAC will be bilateral consultations on mutual accreditation programs and the development of "road maps" for almost all types of products: according to Alexey Khersontsev, such negotiations are now being conducted with China and seven other countries. "Joining APLAC means that there is no need for additional certification, products can go with our APLAC labeling, and where barriers exist, we have an opportunity to come to an agreement," – explained the official. In addition to national certification, protocols with APLAC MRA mark will be in demand in the B2B sector, as international companies often place increased demands on counterparties' products: appropriate tests should also be conducted in accredited laboratories.
Joining APLAC opens a gate for Russia to full membership in ILAC (now the country has the status of an associate member). The corresponding decision can be taken at the General Assembly of ILAC, which will be held in December 2017 in Vancouver.