Taking developing countries onboard
IEC Affiliate Countries can participate in IECEE activities as observers
Standardization and conformity assessment are complementary. While it is essential that products and systems comply with standards, this compliance has then to be verified and certified. This may be a given in industrialized countries; it is less obvious for developing and industrializing countries.
Electrotechnical standardization for developing countries
Since 2001, the IEC, through its Affiliate Country Programme, has offered developing countries the opportunity to start participating in electrotechnical standardization activities at international level and to adopt IEC International Standards as national ones. Eighty-one countries currently participate in the programme. IEC International Standards have been adopted nationally by about 40 Affiliate countries.
The WTO (World Trade Organization) has complimented the IEC on the creation of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme. This provides an appropriate tool to enhance participation in International Standardization from WTO Members in developing countries.
In its TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement), the WTO recommends its members, particularly developing countries, to use International Standards rather than regional or national ones whenever possible. International Standards are widely adopted at the regional or national level and applied by manufacturers, trade organizations, purchasers, consumers, testing laboratories, authorities and other interested parties. Since these standards generally reflect the expertise and state-of-the-art know-how of industry, researchers, consumers and regulators worldwide, and cover common needs in a variety of countries, they constitute one of the important bases for the removal of technical barriers to trade.
The next step: conformity assessment
Most developing countries have little or no industry. Electrical and electronic goods sold locally are imported from all over the world. The main issue is therefore to avoid the dumping of substandard products on such countries and to guarantee that only safe and high-quality equipment reaches the local market. It is therefore likely to be in governments’ interest to require compliance with standards for all imports.
IECEE Affiliate status
To help developing countries that have an interest in participating in conformity assessment activities, IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, has now decided to grant IEC Affiliate Countries observer status in the IECEE System.
This status offers them a form of participation in conformity assessment activities without the financial burden of actual membership, allowing them to make full use of the IECEE 100% electronic environment.
The Affiliate Countries participating in IECEE activities are entitled to attend all IECEE meetings as observers, to make use of the IECEE rules, procedures and operational documents and to participate in the various IECEE training and workshops.
However, observers do not have the right to propose or vote on resolutions.
Removing trade barriers
The global reach of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme allows it to achieve increased awareness, use and adoption of IEC International Standards in developing and newly industrialized countries. It also helps develop trade with these new markets, as participants adopt IEC International Standards and use the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, in particular IECEE.
Benefits for all
Industry can export to and in some cases import from these areas with the assurance that their products and services will operate safely and efficiently.
Affiliate Countries can set the basis in their own countries for building the necessary Conformity Assessment structures to ensure that imported electrical goods rely on IEC International Standards in terms of safety and efficiency.