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U.S., Canada Complete Step To Simplify Trade of Telecommunications Equipment

NIST News Release

Washington, DC, Apr 07, 2004

U.S. makers of telecommunication equipment now can certify their products in the United States and ship directly to Canadian markets, thanks to the latest step in carrying out a 1998 trade agreement. This streamlining of the regulatory approval process results from the Canadian government’s recent recognition of seven U.S. testing and inspection organizations.

Two-way trade of telecommunications equipment between the two neighbors totals about $7 billion a year.

Industry Canada, a cabinet-level department, recently recognized seven NIST-recommended U.S. testing and inspection organizations to certify, prior to export, that U.S.-made telecommunications products meet Canadian requirements. Canada’s recognition of these so-called “certification bodies” simplifies the regulatory approval process and provides U.S. manufacturers of wire and wireless telecommunications products with an uninterrupted path to the Canadian market.

Since 2000, manufacturers could furnish test results from approved U.S. laboratories as evidence of compliance, but Canadian officials continued to perform the final evaluation and certification of products. Before 2000, procedures for certifying U.S. telecommunications exports were performed entirely by Canadian organizations.

For Canada and the United States, the latest simplifying step nearly completes the second phase of a six-year-old trade agreement among members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC. The neighbors are the first of 21 APEC economies to implement the second phase of the 1998 APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Telecommunication Equipment.

The MRA initiated actions to enable mutual acceptance of test data, inspection results and, ultimately, certifications that products conform to a trading partner’s regulatory requirements. It was not intended to supplant the standards and regulations of individual economies.

However, requirements of different economies may have many similarities. A consequence often has been costly and time-consuming duplicative testing of products shipped to foreign markets.

The seven U.S. certification bodies approved by Industry Canada underwent rigorous evaluations by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI accredited the organizations after reviewing their procedures for assessing conformance to international and Canadian requirements.

In 2003, NIST, as the U.S. “designating authority” under the MRA, reviewed and audited ANSI’s accreditation program for bodies certifying telecommunications equipment. It endorsed ANSI as the accreditor of U.S. “certification bodies” for approving telecommunications equipment for compliance with Canadian requirements.

In January, NIST designated the ANSI-accredited certification bodies for recognition by Industry Canada, which now has notified NIST of their acceptance.

Industry Canada has not yet nominated telecommunication certification bodies for recognition by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. regulator of interstate and international communications. Industry Canada is now evaluating prospective Canadian certification bodies for eventual FCC recognition, which would streamline approval of Canadian telecommunications products intended for the U.S. market.

Stages of implementation of the MRA vary among the APEC economies. The United States has implemented the first phase of the agreement, which allows test results from approved U.S. labs to be considered as evidence of compliance, with three other APEC economies: Australia, Singapore and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan).

A list of the Industry Canada-approved labs and a copy of the MRA can be found (under APEC) at http://ts.nist.gov/ts/htdocs/210/gsig/mra.htm.


See related story: Industry Canada Recognizes ANSI Accreditation of Telecommunications Product Certifiers under Phase II APEC MRA for Telecommunication (November 4, 2003)

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