International trade agreements are currently in the spotlight, following the US presidential election and Brexit. These agreements regulate trade between countries and establish import quotas and tariffs. By setting up free trade agreements between countries, trade barriers are reduced, which helps to increase the movement of goods and services.

Freight_forwarders_insuranceWorking hand in hand with trade agreements are international standards for health, safety and quality of goods and services, which help to facilitate international trade. By establishing standards between trading countries, products can move easily between borders because the same specifications have been adopted and accreditations achieved.

From what we understand, Donald Trump is going to have a different attitude towards international trade and globalisation. A move away from free trade to a protectionism strategy could follow. Brexit will change our relationship with the EU and we will have to negotiate new trade deals with European and global markets. So how is this likely to affect the way businesses keep up with international standards and accreditation?

Currently, EU regulations allow for one accreditation service provider per EU country. However, the United States currently has 4 organisations listed, with a 5th waiting to be admitted. Could Britain adopt the same policy?

International standards
ISO, the international organisation for standardisation, works closely with the World Trade Organisation to promote the use of international standards and increase free and fair global trading.
ISO is a network of National Standards Bodies (NSBs) in countries around the world. Businesses requiring assessment and certification to internationally agreed standards will need to be certified by their approved registration/certification body.

Accreditation Bodies
The IAF (International Accreditation Forum) is the world association of conformity assessment and Accreditation Bodies. Members are only admitted to the IAF MLA (Multilateral Recognition Agreement) following stringent evaluation of their operations.

The focus of the IAF is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment – Certified Once – Accepted Everywhere.

When we are no longer restricted to EU law, will the Accreditation of Certification Bodies to certify goods and services be opened up to other Accreditation Bodies?

Accreditation in the US
One of the IAF MLA members in the US providing worldwide accreditation services is ANAB, who are jointly owned by the American National Standards Institute and the American Society for Quality.
ANAB provides accreditation to Certification Bodies, covering all of the most established standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 etc.

Uncertain future
We are going to see a period of change over the next 2 years and, just like our government’s negotiations with the EU, we need to keep all of our options open and plan accordingly.