In order for international cooperation in world trade to work, trust between countries and trading partners is required for each other’s products and services. Free trade without barriers promotes economic growth and is a target for the internal market in Europe, but also for world trade.
In all countries, requirements are set for products and services imported into and marketed in the country.There are international rules within the WTO, and rules within groups of countries, for example in Europe. In addition, there are also national rules that apply only to the country concerned. Often the rules focus on products and services that can be dangerous to life, health or the environment.
There are also rules on how to prove that the products and services meet the requirements. One possibility is the manufacturer’s declaration, where the manufacturer itself ensures that the requirements are met. Accreditation and certification are examples of third party assessments, ie assessments made by an independent party. This is required in some contexts.
Agreements between EU and third countries
There are agreements between the EU and countries outside the internal market, so-called third countries.
The agreements mean that a company or organization in one country, such as Sweden, can certify a product according to rules that apply in the other country. The product can then be sold on the market in the other country without further testing or approval. These agreements are called MRA-agreements and PECA-agreements, respectively.
MRA means agreements for mutual recognition. Mutual recognition is an agreement between the accreditation bodies to see each other’s accreditations as equivalent. This means that laboratories and accredited bodies in different countries follow the same international standards and that tests and inspections are carried out with the right expertise.
The MRA agreements mean that Swedish export companies can already obtain products approved for export markets in Sweden. Agreements exist between the EU and Australia, New Zeeland, USA, Canada, Israel, Switzerland and Japan.
The agreements can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website. Here are also lists of the designated bodies (Conformity Assessment Bodies) that are available under each agreement.
Agreements between accredited bodies
There are so-called MLA-agreements between accreditation bodies in different countries. This is an agreement between accreditation bodies and not between countries. MLA stands for Multilateral Agreement. The agreements mean comparing the testing, calibration, certification and inspection that takes place under accreditation in all countries included in the agreements.
Swedac has signed agreements at European and international level: EA MLA, IAF MLA and ILAC MRA.