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AUS: Agreement to liberalise telecommunications

Media Release

New APEC agreement to liberalise telecommunications trade

A new agreement aiming to facilitate trade in telecommunications products within the APEC region was announced today by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA). The APEC Telecommunications Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) was made between Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.

In announcing the implementation arrangements, Mr Tony Shaw, Chairman of the ACA, said, "The MRA means that Australian companies can have their telecommunications products certified compliant with the regulatory requirements of other markets, saving time and money. Conformity assessment may now be carried out in the exporting country rather than at the destination."

The MRA was endorsed by APEC Telecommunications and Information Industry Ministers in June 1998, and commenced in July 1999. The four economies involved in today's announcement intend to rely on mutual recognition arrangements between their accreditation bodies - such as Australia's National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) - to streamline their participation in the arrangement.

"This approach will eliminate the need for duplication of testing and certification, and represents a significant step in reducing technical barriers to trade in telecommunications," Mr Shaw said.

While at this stage only four economies are ready to adopt this streamlined approach to implementing the MRA, others are expected to follow.

Japan, Korea and the United States have already announced that they are taking steps to change their regulatory arrangements to enable participation in the MRA. Altogether, 19 APEC members have made similar commitments.

"Australia is a leader in the field of telecommunications self-regulation. The implementation of MRA arrangements will facilitate increased access to the markets of the APEC economies involved," Mr Shaw said.

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