The European Union has finalized the negotiations for an agreement with Japan to facilitate trade and enable European companies to get an easier access Japan’s large market.

The EU and Japan already have close trade ties:

  • The EU exports over €80bn of goods and services to Japan every year;
  • More than 600,000 jobs in the EU are tied to exports to Japan;
  • Japanese companies in the EU employ more than half a million people.

This Economic Partnership Agreement will create new opportunities for exporting European goods and services. The EU-Japan agreement is expected to bring concrete benefits to European exporters and consumers alike.

This agreement provides strong guarantees for protecting EU standards, it also intends to ensure that technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

In this regard, the Economic Partnership Agreement includes also provisions on conformity assessment and specifies that the EU and Japan shall use accreditation with authority derived from government or performed by government as a means to demonstrate technical competence to qualify Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs).

EA wants to bring your attention on the article 7.8, which details the conformity assessment procedures, especially on the following paragraph:

3 – The Parties recognize that a broad range of mechanisms exist to facilitate the acceptance of the results of conformity assessment procedures. Such mechanisms may include:
(a) mutual recognition agreements for the results of conformity assessment procedures with respect to specific technical regulations conducted by bodies located in the territory of the other Party;
(b) cooperative and voluntary arrangements between conformity assessment bodies located in the territories of the Parties;
(c) plurilateral and multilateral recognition agreements or arrangements to which both Parties are participants;
(d) the use of accreditation to qualify conformity assessment bodies;
(e) government designation of conformity assessment bodies, including conformity assessment bodies located in the other Party;
(f) recognition by a Party of results of conformity assessment procedures conducted in the territory of the other Party; and
(g) manufacturer’s or supplier’s declaration of conformity.

4 – The Parties shall exchange information regarding the mechanisms covered by paragraph 3. A Party shall, on request of the other Party, provide information on:
(a) the mechanisms referred to in paragraph 3 and similar mechanisms with a view to facilitating the acceptance of the results of conformity assessment procedures;
(b) factors, including assessment and management of risk, considered when selecting appropriate conformity assessment procedures for specific products; and
(c) accreditation policy, including on international standards for accreditation, and international agreements and arrangements in the field of accreditation, including those of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), to the extent possible and used by a Party in a specific area.

5. With regard to those mechanisms each Party shall:
(a) use, whenever possible and in accordance with its laws and regulations, a supplier’s declaration of conformity as assurance of conformity with the applicable technical regulations;
b ) use accreditation with authority derived from government or performed by government, as appropriate, as a means to demonstrate technical competence to qualify conformity assessment bodies;
(c) if accreditation is established by law as a necessary separate step to qualify conformity assessment bodies, ensure that accreditation activities are independent from conformity assessment activities and that there are no conflicts of interest between accreditation bodies and the conformity assessment bodies they accredit; the Parties may comply with this obligation by means of the separation of conformity assessment bodies from accreditation bodies;
(d) consider joining or, as applicable, not prohibit testing, inspection and certification bodies from joining, international agreements or arrangements for the facilitation of acceptance of conformity assessment results; and
(e) if two or more conformity assessment bodies are authorized by a Party to carry out conformity assessment procedures required for placing a product on the market, not prohibit economic operators from choosing among conformity assessment bodies.

6 – The Parties shall cooperate in the field of mutual recognition in accordance with the Agreement on Mutual Recognition between the European Community and Japan, done at Brussels on 4 April 2001. The Parties may also decide, in accordance with relevant provisions of that Agreement, to extend the coverage as regards to the products, the applicable regulatory requirements and the recognized conformity assessment bodies.

This agreement demonstrates the role and value of conformity assessment and accreditation.
Accreditation is a third party, impartial and independent process to recognize that an organization is competent to perform specific tests, inspections and certifications. It supports the market in facilitating the movement of goods and services .

EA is already involved in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, as part of the CETA Protocol on Conformity Assessment.

For further details, go on the European Commission’s website