What are the differences between countries using international standards?
For decades, the United States, Western Europe and Japan have led international standard development. Representatives of these countries chaired most international standards committees and led standard making through agenda-setting and the know-how of national companies and scientific institutions. Representatives from other countries also participated in standards committees but chaired only a few technical committees. Standards takers are those countries that adopt standards but do not participate in developing those standards.
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.
Accreditation is a central component of the National Quality Infrastructure. Through the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories, certification and inspection bodies, the national accreditation bodies build trust in the overall conformity assessment system.
Accreditation is the youngest type of institution of the Quality Infrastructure system. Accreditation refers to “…to the independent evaluation of conformity assessment bodies against recognised standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their impartiality and competence. Through the application of national and international standards, government, procurers and consumers can have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided.”