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Reducing technical barriers to trade
We facilitate trade through a robust standards and conformance infrastructure and mutual recognition agreements (MRAs). This reduces costs and delays for exporters and increases the supply of reliable products into the Australian market.
We do this by:
- managing the government’s policy relationship with Australia’s peak standards and conformance infrastructure bodies
- maintaining MRAs to reduce the testing, inspection and certification of goods moved between countries and Australian states and territories
- representing Australian standards and conformance matters in free trade agreements (FTAs), and implementing FTAs
- representing Australian standards and conformance matters on the the World Trade Organization's Agreement on technical barriers to trade
- representing Australia at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance
Mutual recognition agreements
MRAs improve the movement of goods and labour domestically and internationally by recognising test reports and certificates issued by a designated conformity assessment body.
They facilitate trade by allowing a product’s conformance requirements (testing, inspecting and certification) to be undertaken in the export country, instead of the destination country.
Mutual recognition benefits include:
- manufacturing to meet a single standard to ensure lower costs to business and improved competitiveness
- greater product availability and choice for consumers
- reduced importer risks and approval time delays
We manage the mutual recognition of goods while the Department of Education, Skills and Employment manages the mutual recognition of occupations.
The Australian Government is working to improve occupational mobility, making it easier for Australians in licensed occupations to move where their skills are needed and enable businesses and consumers to access skilled workers more quickly.
More information about this initiative, including a uniform scheme for the automatic mutual recognition of occupational registrations developed by the Commonwealth with the States and Territories, is available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website. Please note that this work is not designed to change the current arrangements for the mutual recognition of goods.
Australia has MRAs with:
- Australian states and territories
- New Zealand
- Europe, including the United Kingdom
Domestic and New Zealand mutual recognition
The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 allows goods sold in one Australian state or territory to be sold in another without needing to meet further requirements. This principle also applies across Australia and New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (TTMRA).
The MRAs do not affect laws that regulate:
- how goods are sold
- endangered species
- restricted goods, including firearms, prohibited weapons, fireworks and indecent material
- ozone depleting substances
- gaming machines
- therapeutic goods
- road vehicles
- certain radio communications equipment
- regulated chemicals and hazardous substances
- gas appliance standards
- people working in regulated occupations
Under the MRAs, the sale of certain goods can be stopped:
- temporarily for up to 12 months, for health, safety or environmental reasons. A TTMRA exemption can be extended if all relevant governments agree
- permanently if all participating jurisdictions endorse the decision and provide a clear justification
We can assist regulators with the exemption process. Email TradeFacilitation [at] industry.gov.au
Mutual recognition with Europe, including the United Kingdom
The Agreement on Mutual Recognition in relation to Conformity Assessment, Certificates and Markings between Australia and the European Community (EC-MRA) entered into force on 1 January 1999. An amending agreement was entered into force on 1 January 2013.
The agreement also extends to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein under the Agreement on Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment, Certificates and Markings between Australia and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway (EFTA MRA).
The Agreement On Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment, Certificates And Markings Between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) was signed in January 2019, and enters into force on 1 January 2021, when the EC-MRA no longer applies to the UK. It continues to apply the mutual recognition arrangements between Australia and the UK that are currently provided for under the EC-MRA.
The MRAs cover:
- automotive products
- electromagnetic compatibility
- low voltage electrical equipment
- telecommunications terminal equipment
- medical devices
- pharmaceuticals good manufacturing practice
- pressure equipment
The MRAs facilitate trade by giving exporters the choice to undertake product conformance requirements (testing, inspecting and certification) in their home country or destination country. Exporters may need to have their products tested by a suitable conformity assessment body prior to export.
Australian exporters must comply with EC directives and regulations including applying a CE mark to products to legally export and sell in Europe. Australian exporters to the UK can refer to the UK Government’s website.
Mutual recognition with Singapore
The Australia-Singapore Mutual Recognition Agreement on Conformity Assessment [PDF 113KB] entered into force on 1 July 2001.
The MRA covers:
- electrical and electronic equipment products
- telecommunications equipment products
- the manufacturing process for medicinal products, known as Good manufacturing practice
See how we negotiate and implement FTAs
Email TradeFacilitation [at] industry.gov.au
Last updated: 22 December 2020
Content ID: 46728