Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement - Guide to the Agreement
8. Standards and Technical Regulations
This Chapter applies to all standards, technical regulations and conformity
assessment procedures of the central (federal) government that affect trade
in all goods. As tariffs are lowered or, in the case of an FTA eliminated,
addressing non-tariff measures that can be used to frustrate trade becomes
even more important. The Chapter contains 11 Articles and 1 Annex.
1. Affirmation of the TBT Agreement (Article 8.2)
Both Australia and the United States affirm their existing rights and obligations
to each other under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement where
such issues as standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment
procedures are addressed.
2. Regional Governments (Article 8.3)
Under this Article, both Parties agree to provide information to state level
governments and relevant bodies and to encourage their adherence to the commitments
in the Chapter.
3. International standards (Article 8.4)
There are many entities in the US which develop standards in both the government
and private spheres as well as at the federal and sub-federal/state levels.
Exporters can find it very difficult and costly to meet these different standards
and technical regulations. Both Parties have therefore agreed
to use, to the maximum extent possible, international standards.
4. Technical Regulations (Article 8.5)
In this Article both Parties have agreed to give positive consideration
to accepting, as equivalent, each other's technical regulations, provided
they are satisfied that they adequately fulfil the objectives of their own
regulations. This is important because sometimes the technical regulations
of the Parties may be different but achieve the same result.
For example, if a US technical regulation stipulates that a product must
contain certain features and pass certain tests to ensure safety, and this
technical regulation is different from Australia's regulation covering the
same product, the US will give positive consideration to accepting Australia's
technical regulation. The result is that the Australian product, subject
to US agreement would enter the US market without changes to production methods
or the characteristics of the end product.
5. Conformity Assessment Procedures (Article 8.6)
Products often need to be tested to determine whether relevant standards
and technical regulations have been met before they can enter the market. In
many cases the tests are carried out in the country from which they are being
exported. If the importing country does not accept the results of the test
it may require further testing which can significantly add to costs. Both
Parties have therefore agreed to facilitate the acceptance of each other's
conformity assessment procedures.
Where they are rejected, the Parties must explain the reason for the refusal
in detail. In some cases it may be possible to establish working groups
involving practitioners to resolve the problem.
6. Transparency (Article 8.7)
Under this Article each Party allows persons of the other Party to participate
in the development of standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment
Further, both Parties agree to exchange and publish relevant information
to ensure that their processes are transparent.
7. Chapter Coordinator (Article 8.9)
Both Parties agree to establish a mechanism to address issues raised by
either Party relating to the development, adoption, application or enforcement
of standards, technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures.
In this case an enquiry point, and possible technical working groups, will
aim to ensure that relevant practitioners are involved in finding practical
solutions to real market access problems.
8. Information Exchange (Article 8.10)
Both Parties agree to provide each other with information or explanations
in a timely manner and electronically.
9. Chapter Coordinator (Annex 8-A)
Under this Annex the relevant agencies which will assume the role of Chapter
Coordinator are nominated. In the case of Australia it will initially
be the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. In the case
of the United States it will be the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
March 6, 2004