Conformity assessment mutual recognition arrangements

Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) provide for recognition of testing, certification and inspections between countries or economies.

About MRAs

MRAs owe their existence to the trade facilitation objectives of the World Trade Organisation which seeks to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures don't create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

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.

Mutual recognition agreement with the United Kingdom

To help ensure continuity and stability in the arrangements underpinning our trade, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (UK) have signed a bilateral agreement on Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment (the Mutual Recognition Agreement). This agreement is intended to come into effect either when the UK leaves the European Union (EU) (in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit) or at the conclusion of any transition period that might be agreed between the UK and the EU. This will ensure continuation of arrangements currently in place with the UK by virtue of the Mutual Recognition Agreement between New Zealand and the EU.

The Mutual Recognition Agreement will continue to allow products to be tested, inspected and certified in New Zealand before being exported to the UK, and vice versa.  This streamlines the export process for our companies and reduces costs to businesses.

The agreement is a binding treaty between the New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It is limited to products that are subject to government regulation and that involve some form of mandatory third party assessment before they are placed on the market.

The agreement covers the following:

  • manufacturing practices for medicinal products
  • medical devices
  • telecommunications terminal equipment
  • low voltage equipment
  • electromagnetic compatibility
  • machinery, and
  • pressure equipment.

More information is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.(external link)

APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Electric and Electronic Equipment

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) uses an approach known as Pathfinder Initiatives for members to pilot co-operative initiatives before they are adopted by all members. This enables APEC members to move faster in specific areas and stimulate progress towards free trade and investment goals.

This arrangement was adopted as a Pathfinder Initiative in the 10th APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration to facilitate trade in regulated electrical and electronic equipment.

Members that use a mandatory third party conformity assessment system as part of their regulatory framework are encouraged to use this arrangement to mutually recognise conformity assessment. It reduces costs and potential delays of duplicative reviews by importing participant members.

Participants will recognise test reports and certificates of conformity issued by other participating economies.

The arrangement comprises 3 parts:

  1. Information exchange deals with the scope, general principles and administration of the arrangement as a whole.
  2. Mutual recognition of test reports sets out general principles relating to the acceptance of test reports and mechanisms to participate.
  3. Mutual recognition of certification sets out general principles to mutually recognise certificates of conformation and mechanisms to participate.

More information is available on the APEC website(external link).

Mutual recognition agreement with the European Union

This agreement enables products to be tested, inspected and certified in the European Union before being exported to New Zealand, and vice versa.

For New Zealand exporters, this means that goods can be labelled to comply with relevant European Commission directives (regulations) here. There is no further intervention from European Commission authorities after the goods arrive in Europe.

The agreement is a binding treaty between the New Zealand and the European Community. It is limited to products subject to government regulation that involve some form of mandatory third party assessment before being placed on the market.

There are 7 sectoral annexes which relate to:

  • manufacturing practices for medicinal products
  • medical devices
  • telecommunications terminal equipment
  • low voltage equipment
  • electromagnetic compatibility
  • machinery
  • pressure equipment.

The European Commission published a guide to the agreement from a European perspective:

Doing business in Australia and New Zealand: Conformity assessment [PDF, 354KB](external link).

Mutual recognition agreement with China on electrical and electronic equipment

The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement (EEE MRA) is an annex to the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement. It represents an opportunity for significant savings for companies manufacturing electrical and electronic equipment in New Zealand who export to China.

The agreement makes New Zealand one of the only countries in the world where China Compulsory Certification (CCC) can be approved outside of China.

The EEE MRA allows the conformity assessment process to be carried out in New Zealand by approved New Zealand conformity assessment bodies and factory inspectors. This means the product doesn't need to be sent to China for testing and Chinese factory inspectors don't need to be flown to New Zealand.

The EEE MRA currently covers the following categories:

  • audio and video products (not including the audio apparatus for broadcasting service and automobiles)
  • household and similar electrical appliances
  • lighting electrical appliances
  • electrical wires and cables
  • circuit switches
  • electric devices for protection or connection
  • low voltage electrical apparatus
  • electric tools
  • welding machines
  • information technology equipment.

EEE MRA list of products

For a full list of the products included under each of the product categories and the standards they need to meet, please refer to these EEE MRA schedules:

Schedule A.1 (Source: New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade) [PDF 723KB](external link)

Schedule A.2 (Source: New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade) [PDF 1.6MB](external link)

If you have general inquiries regarding the EEE MRA, email eeemra@mbie.govt.nz.

Related links for the EEE MRA

China: EEE MRA Fact sheet [PDF, 207 KB]

China: EEE MRA User Guide(external link) (MFAT)

Broader information on trading with China is available at the China Free Trade Agreement website(external link) and the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website(external link).

Mutual recognition agreement with Singapore on electrical and electronic products

The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement with Singapore is an annex to the New Zealand Singapore Closer Economic Partnership (ANZSCEP).

It recognises certification and testing between Singaproe and New Zealand by maintaining the standards of each Party, but allowing accreditation of testing and certification bodies to be carried out in the other Party’s territory.

Mutual recognition arrangement with Taiwan on electrical and electronic products

New Zealand and Taiwan have an arrangement to facilitate trade in electrical and electronic products. The MRA is between the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New Zealand.

It allows the partners to test, and where required, certify products traded between Taiwan and New Zealand. It applies Taiwanese standards for products destined for Taiwan and AS/NZS standards and approval requirements (certification) for products destined for New Zealand.

This reduces the impact of technical barriers to trade and removes a layer of transaction costs. The arrangement was signed in July 2005.

Find out more: Taiwan trade arrangement(external link) 

Evaluation of MRAs

MBIE has undertaken an evaluation of New Zealand’s conformity assessment mutual recognition agreements and arrangements (MRAs). MRAs are designed to help exporters and importers by reducing the time and costs of obtaining approval for their products to be sold in a particular market.

The review included MRAs covering electrical and electronic products with China, the European Union (EU), Singapore and Taiwan, and a range of manufactured products with the EU.

MBIE found that the use of the MRAs by New Zealand business is generally limited. Instead, many businesses appear to be self-declaring that their goods comply with the appropriate regulations and using accredited testing facilities that operate outside the scope of the relevant MRA.

The exception is the MRA covering medicinal products with the EU. This agreement is significantly facilitating trade and is highly valued by exporters, importers and regulators.

MBIE will use the evaluation as a tool to consider options to support businesses in the future — for instance in developing existing MRAs, negotiating new MRAs, and developing other forms of regulatory cooperation as a way to facilitate market access and protect consumers.

Read the full evaluation of conformity assessment mutual recognition agreements and arrangements. [PDF, 346 KB]