Accreditation: a support tool for developing future international trade
Products' and services' integrity and safety is a requirement increasingly demanded by society and, therefore, by the market and public administrations. However, companies face aspects that are affecting the global market and that increase the risk of not meeting those needs: increasingly complex supply chains, geopolitical factors affecting the sourcing of raw materials, regulatory differences, the need for constantly adapting to technological development, growing consumer awareness of sustainability, food safety, cybersecurity, product authenticity or ethical consumption and so on. All this is forcing companies to transform and increase control of production processes and supply chains and assess services, among others, to continue generating confidence among consumers.
Given this situation, World Accreditation Day 2023 aims to highlight accreditation's role as a tool to respond to these emerging future trends and provide support to companies in international trade.
To this end, the international organizations of accreditors, ILAC, International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, and IAF, International Accreditation Forum, have published a document collecting data from organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which estimate that standards and conformity assessment affect 80% of world trade.
The document points out how the quality infrastructure – a system integrated by standardization, metrology and accreditation – is an increasingly used tool to aid companies' access to the international market, avoiding Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) that, sometimes, prevent the importing country from recognising certificates and conformity declarations issued in the exporting country.
Specifically, accreditation's international recognition through international agreements is a passport for exports, as it enables the reports or certificates issued by bodies accredited by accreditation bodies, such as ENAC in Spain, to have the support and recognition of local accreditation bodies in more than 100 countries, aiding trade by reducing barriers to access to foreign markets.
Moreover, at present, both in Spain and in Europe, accreditation is widely used by legislators. Proof of this; more than 200 national and regional provisions, as well as more than 100 at European level, incorporate accreditation as a tool to guarantee the reliability of products and services, develop secure markets and strengthen consumer protection.
Finally, in this document, we also find examples from around the world of how accreditation has helped companies overcome the new challenges of the international market.
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