NIST organized and hosted a workshop on August 6 entitled Conformity Assessment Guidance and Best Practices Workshop: Canada – Mexico – USA. The goal of this workshop was to share stakeholder experiences in conformity assessment best practices and guidance between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Approximately 55 individuals participated representing all 3 countries and many sectors. Participants learned about how conformity assessment is conducted in each of the three countries from the perspectives of industry, conformity assessment bodies and government.
It was noted that all three countries influence the development of standards and thus there should be opportunities for more collaboration. Several examples of cooperation were highlighted such as the United States Coast Guard and Transport Canada’s work on personal flotation device (PFD) recognition; NIST and Canadian counterparts joint conformity assessment program for encryption equipment; and government to government Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for telecommunications equipment which includes all three economies.
Other observations included a desire for faster development and regulatory adoption of standards as technology development moves very rapidly in fields such as the ICT sector. At the same time others stated that longer lead times are required to implement the new regulations and establish the required conformity assessment programs as many products have large global supply chains that need to be modified accordingly. During the summary it was agreed that there is a range of conformity assessment tools for a regulator to choose from and the appropriate tool depends on the level of risk associated with the product. Making regulatory policy more consistent with trade policy was identified as an objective that would be beneficial to support commerce among the countries of North America. Workshop participants supported having future workshops to continue engagement.
NIST thanks the panelists for sharing their experience and expertise and all participants for attending.