US, Singapore act to simplify telecom trade

June 27, 2006

On June 2, new, streamlined regulatory approval procedures came into effect in the United States and Singapore, allowing U.S. makers of telecommunication equipment to certify their products at home and ship directly to the $1.3 billion Asian market, and eliminating the need for often-duplicative testing. The delay-ending, cost-saving simplification is the latest bilateral step in carrying out a 1998 trade agreement among members of APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designated four U.S. organizations as "certification bodies," and they now have been recognized by the Singapore government as qualified to determine whether shipments of telecommunications products--including wireless equipment--comply with that country's required standards.

In a parallel action, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recognized a certification body designated by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. This permits Singapore telecommunication exports to be tested and certified as conforming to FCC regulations before shipment to the United States. The FCC is the U.S. regulator of interstate and international communications. Two-way trade of telecommunication products between the two nations totaled about $1.1 billion in 2005.

The joint action nearly completes the second phase of the 1998 APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Telecommunication Equipment, intended to reduce technical barriers to markets. Since 2001, under the first phase, manufacturers could furnish test results from approved U.S. laboratories as evidence of compliance, but Singapore officials continued to perform the final evaluation and certification of products. Before then, procedures for certifying U.S. telecommunications exports were performed entirely by Singapore organizations.

The four Singapore-approved certification bodies include the Bay Area Compliance Laboratory Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.); Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (San Jose, Calif.); CKC Certification Services (Mariposa, Calif.) and Compliance Certification Services (Morgan Hill, Calif.)

After Canada, Singapore is only the second APEC member with which the United States has progressed to full implementation of the MRA. The first phase has been implemented with Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.
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U.S. certification bodies are evaluated by the NIST-recognized accreditation services of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). After an audit and review, in 2005, NIST recognized ANSI to be the accreditor of U.S. "certification bodies" for evaluating telecommunications equipment for compliance with Singapore requirements. Further information on the Singapore-approved laboratories and certification bodies, and the MRA can be found at http://ts.nist.gov/ts/htdocs/210/gsig/mra.htm.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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