Participation in International and Regional Standards Fora
To keep abreast of the latest developments and to exchange information and views on international standards activities, Hong Kong, China participates actively in major international and regional fora relating to standards and conformance issues.Hong Kong, China is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The Product Standards Information Bureau (PSIB) of the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) is Hong Kong, China's Enquiry Point and Notification Point under the Agreement. The PSIB also represents Hong Kong, China in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) , the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).
The TBT Agreement is an integral part of the WTO Agreement. It lays down rules and establishes disciplines on the preparation, adoption and application of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures which might act as technical barriers to trade. The Agreement encourages Members to use existing international standards for their national regulations.
The TBT Agreement contains notification obligations related to technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures and requires a Member to designate a single government authority to be responsible for all issues related to notification procedures. As Hong Kong, China's Notification Point under the TBT Agreement, the PSIB is responsible for the implementation of the notification procedures. Draft regulations should be notified to the WTO Secretariat 60 days prior to their formal adoption so as to allow time for other Members to make comments. Regulations can be notified with a shorter lead time or even after the event if urgent problems of safety, health, environmental protection are involved. The PSIB works with other bureaux and departments of the Government to prepare and submit notifications where necessary in accordance with WTO procedures.
All signatories are obliged to notify other Members of their proposed technical regulations or standards. The PSIB receives up-to-date information on technical regulations or standards proposed by other WTO Members. The PSIB disseminates the notifications to relevant government bureaux and departments and parties concerned for their information and comments.
The WTO offers a free notification service open to all. Please click here to register.
The TBT Agreement also contains obligations relating to the provision of information among Members on standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for transparency and information exchange and mandates Members to create enquiry points. As Hong Kong, China's Enquiry Point under the Agreement, the PSIB handles enquiries from other WTO Members concerning Hong Kong, China's notifications and acts as the focal point where other WTO Members can contact and obtain information and documentation on Hong Kong, China's standards, technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures and related information within the scope of the Agreement. Assistance from relevant government bureaux and departments will be sought to answer the enquiries where appropriate.
The APEC SCSC was set up in 1994 with a view to pursuing:
|(1)||alignment of standards with international standards;|
|(2)||mutual recognition of conformity assessment in regulated and voluntary sectors;|
|(3)||cooperation in technical infrastructure development; and|
|(4)||transparency of standards, regulations and conformity assessment.|
In line with (1) above, the policy of Hong Kong, China is to adopt international standards wherever possible. Moreover, Hong Kong, China has also been taking active steps to establish mutual recognition agreements with other economies and support APEC programmes on technical infrastructure development so as to strengthen Hong Kong, China's technical capability. In respect of (4), member economies agreed to establish websites to disseminate standards and conformance information. In this regard, information about the standards, regulations and conformity assessment requirements in Hong Kong, China can be accessed at http://www.standard.gov.hk. The PSIB represents Hong Kong, China to participate in the APEC SCSC Meetings and coordinates among bureaux and departments of the Government to take part in the related projects and events of APEC.
The ISO, a non-governmental organisation, is a federation of the standards bodies of some 160 economies from all regions of the world. Hong Kong, China does not have a central standards body developing and issuing domestic standards and hence has been participating in ISO as a correspondent member since 1968.
The PSIB attends the ISO annual General Assembly, participates in standardisation activities of the ISO, such as the annual World Standards Day, and nominates interested representatives from the industry, research institutes, tertiary institutions, professional bodies, trade and industrial organisations and other government departments, to participate in ISO Technical Committees (TC) to take part in the development work of international standards.
The ISO TC together with their sub-committees (SC) and working groups (WG) are responsible for developing ISO standards. In these committees, qualified representatives of industry, research institutes, government authorities, consumer bodies and international organisations all over the world come together as equal partners in the resolution of global standards problems.
Supporting innovation and research and development has been a key focus of the Government. We encourage interested parties to play an active role in the development of international standards which plays a significant role in innovation and research and development work, in particular in areas of emerging technology. We appeal to interested parties from the trade, industry and research and development fields to take part in the ISO technical work for their industry and own benefits.
Benefits of participating in development of international standards
- keep abreast of the latest development in international standards and related activities
- have access to technical information and intelligence not available elsewhere
- communicate and network with peers in the industry and standards bodies
- gain invaluable knowledge about future directions of industry that affect customer preferences and market access
- influence the development of the standards that directly affect their business
Participants from Hong Kong, China take part in the TC and related meetings as observers (O-members). Observers have the right to attend meetings, receive documents and make contribution through offering views and suggestions just as participating members. The only difference is that observers have no power of vote at the committees. Parties interested in joining ISO TC/SC are welcome to express their interest with the PSIB.
The Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) was founded in 1973 with a view to strengthening and co-ordinating the input of Pacific economies to international standards activities. Hong Kong, China is a full member in PASC and PSIB represents Hong Kong, China at its annual meetings. Further information of PASC can be viewed here.