Introduction to EMC and Telecom Mutual Recognition Agreements
The EMC/Telecom Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) are government-to-government agreements that help to facilitate trade by promoting acceptance of the results of each party's conformity assessment procedures, reducing the time it takes a product to be placed on the market, reducing the costs associated with placing a product on the market, and increasing transparency of technical regulations, laws, policies, and procedures.
Benefits of MRAs include:
* Reduced time and costs. Requirements for duplicative testing are eliminated. Products can be tested in one country to another county's regulations and therefore, allow a product to reach the market faster than before. This is especially important in the telecom sector since the lifecycle of a product is typically short.
* EMC and telecom regulations, laws, policies, and procedures become more transparent.
* Frequent dialogue between regulatory authorities, designating authorities, and accreditation bodies exists in order to maintain consistency of programs.
* Laboratories, product certification bodies, and manufacturers are more knowledgeable and stay up-to-date on changes in technical regulations and policies.
* Industry committees have formed as a means of sharing information and communicating with regulatory authorities, designating authorities, and accreditation bodies.
The MRAs rely on accreditation as a basis for establishing technical competence and building regulator confidence. The accreditation bodies are responsible for accrediting competent Conformity Assessment Bodies (or, CABs) in accordance with international standards and to the importing party's technical requirements.
In the United States, NIST currently lists A2LA, ACLASS and NVLAP as acceptable for use for the MRAs for EMC and telecommunications test laboratories (ISO/IEC 17025). Both A2LA and ANSI are recognized through the National Voluntary Conformity Assessment Systems Evaluation (NVCASE) Program as accreditors of certification bodies (ISO/IEC Guide 65).
Role of NIST
NIST serves as the U.S. Designating Authority. NIST receives and processes applications from U.S. testing laboratories and certification bodies (also called CABs - conformity assessment bodies) seeking to be recognized under the MRAs by specific economies/regions as applicable. We are responsible for nominating qualified CABs to MRA partner economies/countries. The MRA partners then formally recognize the qualified testing laboratories and/or certification bodies.
NIST continues to work closely with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to negotiate additional EMC/Telecom MRAs that benefit U.S. industry.
Current Status of EMC/Telecom MRAs
U.S. certification bodies meeting the requirements can apply to become Notified Bodies for the EU under the R&TTE Directive and/or the EMC Directive.
U.S testing laboratories meeting the requirements can apply to become a recognized testing laboratory for specific economy test methods/requirements under Phase I of the MRA. U.S. certification bodies meeting the requirements can become recognized certification bodies under Phase II of the MRA.
This MRA is not yet operational.
A third MRA between US and Japan (for certification bodies only) is expected to become operational in mid-2010.