Cross-frontier accreditation: practice and impact

Accreditation builds trust in international trade

Accreditation is a valuable tool for building trust in international trade. Accreditation bodies assess and confirm the technical competence and independence of conformity assessment service providers, i.e. testing laboratories, inspection and certification bodies.

By multilateral agreements, accreditation bodies recognise the equivalence of their services. Mutual recognition prevents tests or certifications from being issued more than once and reduces transaction costs for companies.

In Europe, the principle of “one accreditation body per economy” applies, while in other countries such as the USA, India or Korea, several accreditation bodies are active and sometimes compete.

Accreditation bodies operate cross-frontier

In a recent study, we have looked for the first time into the phenomenon of cross-frontier accreditation activity. This activity refers to an accreditation body that offers its services in another country. The reasons for this are manifold, e.g., the receiving country does not have its own accreditation body, or the national accreditation body lacks competence in a specific accreditation scope.

Global network of cross-frontier accreditation

From the perspective of developing and emerging countries, cross-frontier accreditation is a form of know-how transfer. As a result, accreditation bodies from more developed countries often work closely with accreditation bodies or national accreditation focal points in less developed countries. Also, noteworthy is regional cooperation through regional accreditation bodies offering their services in several countries simultaneously. In individual cases, however, cross-frontier accreditation is also seen critically as competition.

Study visualises the international networking of accreditation

Our study uses the data of the Global Quality Infrastructure Index, GQII and visualises the international networking of accreditation for the first time. With this, Mesopartner provides an empirical basis for a debate on the practice of cross-border accreditation and possibilities for improvement within the framework of international accreditation cooperation. For this purpose, Mesopartner is organising a webinar on 1 September with internationally leading representatives of the accreditation and conformity assessment community. Registration for participating in this event is now open at https://gqii.org/online-event/

References

Harmes-Liedtke, U./ Matta, A. (2021) Cross-Frontier-Accreditation, GQII Data and Analytics Paper, No. 2

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