APEC telecomms agreement moves ahead

Six members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group have agreed to implement Phase 1 of the group's Telecommunications Multilateral Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TEL MRA), the group has reported. The MRA aims to liberalise telecommunications trade within APEC by providing for equipment tested in one participating country or territory to be automatically certified for use in any other.

The six economies that have notified their readiness to comply are the US, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

The MRA covers network-terminal equipment and radio-communications equipment which are subject to telecommunications regulation, including wireline and wireless, terrestrial and satellite equipment. Besides the telecommunications aspects, the MRA also covers the electromagnetic compatibility and electrical safety aspects of the telecommunications equipment.

The MRA provides for two phases of implementation. Phase 1 will permit the mutual recognition of testing laboratories that are accredited by the six participating economies to test telecommunications equipment to conform to the other parties' requirements. The mutual recognition of test results therefore allows technical tests to be done in the exporting economy and recognised in the importing economy.

Phase 2 of the MRA provides for the mutual recognition of certification, which is the step following test results usually taken on by the regulatory body. Mutual recognition of certification of test results allows regulatory action to be taken in the exporting economy and recognised in the importing economy.

The MRA relies on voluntary participation and commitment by members of the APEC economies. So far, ten economies have indicated that they will participate in the Telecommunications MRA by the end of 1999.

Table

INDICATIVE SCHEDULE FOR VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION IN THE MUTUAL RECOGNITION ARRANGEMENT ON CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENTCountryPhase 1Phase 2Mutual Recognition of Test Reports Mutual Recognition ofEquipment CertificationAustraliaAustralia already accepts test reports from other parties.

Suppliers declarations are accepted now. Australia does not require certification.

Brunei Darussalam

2003

2003

Canada

end of 1998

end of 1999

China

2002 for network terminals

To be announced

Hong Kong

Already in effect

July 1999

Indonesia

2005

To be advised

Japan

July 1999

July 1999 (expected, but could be 2000)

Korea

July 1999

To be announced

Malaysia

2003

2003

México

June 2001

To be announced

New Zealand*

(see footnote)

(see footnote)

Papua New Guinea

December 2001

To be announced

Philippines

2005

2006

Singapore

July 1999

End of 1999

Chinese Taipei

Already in effect

2000 (expected, but could be 2001)

Thailand

2004

2006

US

FCC currently accepts test data from other partiesJuly 1999Source: Telecommunications Authority of Singapore, April 1999 (* The responsibility for setting the standards for attachment to telecommunications networks in New Zealand rests with network operators, not the government -- except in as far as electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility are concerned. Recognising its potential to contribute towards removal of non-tariff barriers in the APEC region, New Zealand proposes to endorse the MRA.)

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