International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies
Affiliate Country Programme

IEC Affiliates

IEC Programme for developing countries


Adoption of IEC International Standards

In its Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT Agreement), the WTO (World Trade Organization) recommends its members - in particular 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 best experience 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 IEC system, based on inclusiveness and consensus, works to create a balance among both co-operative and competitive interests. Member national committees are required to ensure that the full range of electrotechnical interests in their countries are fully represented, while the IEC system of consensus agreement and voting on projects ensures a democratic outcome. Adopting IEC International Standards therefore facilitate trade.


The Affiliate Leader believes that participation in the Affiliate Country Programme should result in creating confidence in international trade amongst the governments and consumers of Affiliate Countries. Governments and consumers should feel that they can enjoy secure supplies and better choice of electrical and electronic products.


To guarantee that only safe and high-quality equipment is sold to consumers and industry, governments have an interest in requiring standards conformity for imports. Once IEC International Standards have been adopted nationally, regulations may be issued to require importers and distributors to show that the products concerned have been certified to IEC International Standards. Furthermore Affiliates need to be encouraged to use IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, and adoption of IEC International Standards is the first step.


In May 2005, IEC and ISO jointly published a new edition of Guide 21: Regional or national adoption of International Standards and other International Deliverables, which consists of two parts.


Part 1: Adoption of International Standards, provides the methods for adoption of International Standards as regional or national standards, and includes a system for determining the degree of correspondence between regional or national standards and relevant International Standards.


Methods for the adoption of International Deliverables other than International Standards such as Technical Specifications, Publicly Available Specifications, Technical Reports, Guides, Technology, Trend Assessments, Industry Technical Agreements, International Workshop Agreements are given in Part 2, Adoption of International Deliverables other than International Standards.


As a result of a dialogue session with its Affiliates (see Dialogue 2 (login required)) the IEC decided to facilitate the Adoption of 200 IEC International Standards for the Affiliate Country Programme participants and many developing countries have already benefited from this procedure. Under this procedure, the IEC facilitate the preparation of up to 200 national standards using IEC International Standards selected by the respective IEC Affiliate Country.


In 2009, upon an official request from the Affiliate Leader, the IEC launched the Affiliate Plus status. Developing countries fulfilling the Affiliate Plus criteria are granted 400 free copies of IEC International Standards for national adoption (instead of 200). Several Affiliate Countries have already been upgraded to Affiliate Plus.


A document was developed to convey to regulators the benefits of choosing to use and reference ISO and IEC standards for technical regulations and to demonstrate that doing so can support good regulatory practice.