The UK’s leading international trade and accreditation organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together to raise awareness and understanding around conformity assessments and standards.
Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), met with Matt Gantley, the chief executive of the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), in London yesterday (7 March) to sign the agreement.
A key focus of the partnership will be supporting companies to adapt to new requirements around using the new UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark, which replaces the EU’s CE mark following Brexit.
The UKCA mark can already be used for goods traded in the UK and the government’s intention is for it to eventually replace the EU’s CE mark. Both marks are used to verify that manufactured goods meet the safety standards of their respective markets.
The UK government delayed the point at which companies are legally required to use the UKCA mark in the UK market in November for the third time due to “difficult economic conditions”.
Areas of collaboration will include:
- Promotion and education around compliance requirements for new UKCA and CE NI marks
- How the digitalisation of trade will affect conformity assessments
- Supporting government departments to understand the roles of standards and conformity assessments in trade policy
- Supporting government to ensure conformity assessment is correctly referred to in the UK’s trade deals
- Training to support IOE&IT members and the wider trader community to understand the importance of standards and accreditation
Forgione said he was looking forward to working with UKAS on an “important area of compliance” for UK businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“We’re looking forward to working with UKAS to raise awareness and understanding around this important area of compliance for UK businesses, as well as working with it on digital solutions to conformity issues in trade.
“Our team of trade experts are already in place and primed to support businesses on new standards and compliance requirements following Brexit, drawing on almost a century’s worth of experience supporting the country’s exporters and importers.”
Gantley said that UKAS was “delighted” to sign the MOU.
“It furthers UKAS’s strategic mission to build a world of trust and confidence and develops the shared goal of our two organisations to enable global trade through the provision of effective supporting frameworks.
“In particular, I look forward to working with the Institute in the development of digitised solutions to conformity issues in cross-border trade.”
In November 2022, government gave businesses an additional two years to prepare to start using the UKCA mark on goods placed in the UK market.
Businesses will need to start using the mark by 31 December 2024 though the UK will continue to recognise the CE mark on goods already placed in the UK market until the end of 2027.