- Media Centre
NZ’S EXPORT SUCCESS RELIES ON IANZ ACCREDITATION
By IANZ CEO Dr Llew Richards
More than two thirds of New Zealand’s exports rely on IANZ accreditation to ensure they will be accepted in overseas markets.
From mechanical testing to scientific results to microbiology, the laboratories that do this work must be accredited by IANZ to demonstrate they are competent at what they do.
Without that accreditation, customers cannot be sure the goods they buy are up to standard.
Any loss in confidence in the standard of New Zealand products has major implications for all exporters. And the benefits for New Zealand trade in advancing our international accreditation reputation are substantial.
In very simple terms, the role of IANZ (International Accreditation New Zealand) is to ‘test the testers’. A range of factors are covered during assessments, including the competency of staff, calibration of equipment, the integrity and traceability of measurements and materials, the validity of methods and results, and the overall management systems of testing organisations.
Having robust, reliable and independent assessments is critical for the reputation of New Zealand as an exporting nation.
One of the Government’s goals is to increase exports to 40% of GDP by 2025. That figure is currently around 30%, with the primary sector very strong and manufacturing on the increase. A key element in hitting the growth target is New Zealand meeting the market access requirements of other countries. That challenge can be diverse.
In the dairy industry, for instance, New Zealand currently exports to more than 150 countries. Each country has its own regulatory requirements which, in some cases, are unique. Access to these markets frequently requires testing products in a laboratory accredited by IANZ.
IANZ doesn’t just assess others though. It’s under scrutiny itself.
To ensure test reports from New Zealand can be accepted globally, IANZ is evaluated by theInternational Laboratory Accreditation Corporation (ILAC). The vision of ILAC is “tested once, accepted everywhere” – which is critical in facilitating exports from New Zealand.
ILAC established a global mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) in 2000 to assist trade. Under this, accreditation bodies like IANZ must be evaluated every four years to ensure they comply with international standards.
As long as IANZ is a signatory to the ILAC MRA, test reports from IANZ-accredited laboratories can be accepted in the other countries on exactly the same basis as if the laboratory had been accredited locally. Under this arrangement, accreditation authorities in over 70 countries now recognise test reports from laboratories accredited by IANZ.
Customers of IANZ accredited laboratories benefit from knowing their products are acceptable in both domestic and international markets – at the lowest compliance cost. As some Kiwi companies have expensively learned, it is cheaper to test products in New Zealand and, if necessary, deal with sub-standard goods here, rather than export and have them tested (and potentially rejected) overseas.
Due to the rapid increase in the number of ILAC signatories, accreditation has become the norm for regulators needing assurance of competence. As a result, many trade agreements now specifically rely upon accreditation (and the ILAC MRA) as the basis for removing technical barriers to trade.
Accreditation is a feature of New Zealand’s trade agreements with China, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). It is also the basis of technical acceptance between Australia and New Zealand and is the basis for the 1999 agreement between New Zealand and Europe.
Test results from New Zealand provide immediate EU market access, through CE marking, for goods such as electrical, electronics, radio, telephone terminal equipment and simple pressure vessels. Recent changes to the agreement will soon allow a significant number of other products to be added.
China’s deregulation has seen greater use of accreditation. IANZ has a good relationship with the Chinese accreditation body, CNAS, and is looking to expand this further.
For Kiwi exporters, the United States offers big growth opportunities as regulations are opened up around the use of accreditation. Recent advances have been made with regulators using the ILAC MRA and legislation has been passed under which all food testing laboratories will be accredited, rather than inspected by FDA officials.
With IANZ involved in sectors making up a quarter of New Zealand’s GDP, and more than two thirds of our export activity, the IANZ logo is becoming essential for Kiwi companies chasing success on the world stage.
IANZ accreditation gives an assurance that results can be trusted and this will continue to be a key element driving New Zealand exports.