Standards and quality
Cambodia holds its first ASEAN Consultative Committee Meeting
On 14-18 March, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) held its 36th ACCSQ (ASEAN Consultative Committee for Standards and Quality) meeting. The occasion was a first for the Kingdom of Cambodia, organized by the national standardization body ISC (the Institute of Standards of Cambodia) through the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.
Six are Members of the IEC
ASEAN was set up in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand. It aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours, promoting collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest while expanding trade and industry in the region. Six are Members of the IEC (Republic of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam), and the remaining four (Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar) are participants in IEC Affiliate Country Programme.
ASEAN has three main pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Each pillar has its own Blueprint, and collectively, with the IAI (Initiative for ASEAN Integration) Strategic Framework and IAI Work Plan Phase II (2009-2015), set up the 2009-2015 Roadmap for the ASEAN Community.
In the past, Dennis Chew, Officer in charge of IEC-APRC (Asia-Pacific Regional Office), has attended ASEAN meetings. This year, the IEC was represented by the IEC Affiliate Country Programme Secretary, Françoise Rauser, from the IEC Central Office. She was pleased to have the opportunity to update ASEAN ACCSQ delegates on the latest IEC developments, particularly those concerning the Affiliate Country Programme set up for developing countries.
Meeting the energy challenge
Rauser explained how, through the use of IEC Collaboration Tools, the IEC was facilitating virtual meetings for its members, thus cutting down on costs of technical meetings. She outlined the IEC's work on E3 (Electrical Energy Efficiency) and Smart Grid standardization, two issues that are key for developing and industrializing countries.
In this respect, Rauser underlined the importance of the IEC White Paper, published by the MSB (Market Strategy Board) and circulated to the WTO (World Trade Organization) TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Committee as part of the regular IEC report to the WTO in November 2010.
The White Paper provides insight into how the IEC can help industry and governments cope with the energy challenge over the next 20 years. The document can be downloaded from the IEC website.
Smart electrification policy
Attendees at the G-20 (Group of 20) summit in November 2010 were given a preview of the IEC's smart electrification policy and the collection of over 100 International Standards that is now available from the Smart Grid portal on the IEC website. The IEC is pursuing a systems approach to identify gaps and overlaps within IEC International Standards and encouraging closer cooperation among its TCs (Technical Committees) in a common Smart Grid framework.
E3 is also a focal point for CAB (the IEC Conformity Assessment Board), which issued a survey to IEC Members and is now asking developing countries to provide their feedback too in order to better meet needs in this field. And while the IEC continues to reach out to members of the WTO and UN (United Nations) and shares its expertise whenever requested by the two organizations, at the end of 2010, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between the IEC and two partners, IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) with the aim of further increasing the efficiency of IEC Conformity Assessment Systems while helping testing laboratories save time and money.
IEC Affiliate Country Programme
Outlining the IEC's Affiliate Country Programme and the benefits for developing countries, Rauser described the role of the Affiliate Leader, informing those present that a new Leader, most likely to be from Bhutan, was to be nominated in June. Part of the new Affiliate Plus status launched by the IEC in 2009 concerns a mentoring structure that was stimulated by the present Affiliate Leader. Brunei and Lao PDR have already acquired the status of Affiliate Plus since they have both adopted at least 50 IEC International Standards and established a NEC (national electrotechnical committee), two of the criteria demanded for the status. Rauser strongly encouraged ASEAN members to work on a mentoring approach between those countries that are already Members of the IEC and the four Affiliate countries.
Encouraging attendance at IEC General Meetings
The next IEC General Meeting, to be held on 24-28 October 2011 in Melbourne, Australia, provides an ideal opportunity for Affiliate participants to attend the Affiliate Forum and take part as observers in IEC technical meetings and the IEC Council statutory session. Rauser encouraged both Members and Affiliates to attend the industrializing country workshop, also to be held during the General Meeting. This year's topic is to be the international certification of personnel competencies, a follow up on the seminar held by IECEx, IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres, in Brunei in November 2010. She underlined how the adoption and harmonization of IEC International Standards could facilitate trade of electronic and electrical products in the region.
Training session for Cambodia
After the ACCSQ meetings, Rauser and Chew provided a training session for ISC which focused on how to establish an NEC and additional adoption of IEC International Standards in order to upgrade the country to the Affiliate Plus status with emphasis on the involvement of stakeholders in both the private and public sectors. Cambodia has been an Affiliate country since the very launch of the IEC's programme in 2001, and under the terms of the programme ISC has already received 158 IEC International Standards and adopted 41 of them on a national level.
Continued support for Cambodia in setting up a NEC
Participants particularly appreciated the practical demonstration of the Affiliate zone on the IEC's new website and learning how to use logins to access IEC working documents. To become more involved in IEC technical work, Cambodia has already selected IEC TC (Technical Committee) 34: Lamps and related equipment, and SC (Subcommittee) 34A: Lamps, and is hoping that by involving stakeholders in its future NEC it will acquire the necessary expertise to extend to new technical fields. Rauser and Chew suggested it might be possible to set up a virtual session for Cambodia, as the Affiliate Secretariat did for Peru in 2010 with the support of IEC-LARC (IEC Latin America Regional Centre), in order to provide additional support for establishing a Cambodian NEC. In the meantime, the IEC-APRC will continue to provide support in encouraging adoption of the IEC International Standards listed under the ASEAN harmonized EEE (electrical and electronic equipment) regulatory regime.