US / EC Mutual Recognition Agreement on Marine Equipment
The US / EEA EFTA Mutual Recognition Agreement on Marine Equipment
NVIC 08-04, Change 1. Guide to the MRA, including the complete listings of eligible products
Frequently Asked Questions concerning the MRA
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In December 1998, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposed to the European Commission (EC) the negotiation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on marine equipment under the Transatlantic Economic Partnership. The goal of the MRA is to allow a manufacturer to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements instead of multiple ones, as would be the case without the MRA. This will directly lead to a reduction of costs for manufacturers in terms of testing and certification. Negotiations on an agreement began in late 1999. The Lifesaving & Fire Safety Standards Division (CG-ENG-4) worked in close cooperation with USTR to develop the product scope based on a detailed product-by-product review of the U.S. and EC marine equipment requirements.
Negotiations on this important mutual recognition agreement between the US and the EC were concluded in June 2003. The MRA on marine equipment is a result of a 5-year cooperative effort that recognizes the importance of facilitating US - EC trade in marine equipment and promoting bilateral cooperation on international marine equipment regulations. The final version of the US - EC MRA was signed on February 27, 2004 and it entered into force on July 1, 2004.
Following the implementation of the US – EC MRA the USTR started negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) on a MRA that is parallel to the existing US – EC MRA. This second mutual recognition agreement between the US and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein which represent the EEA EFTA member states continues the goal to increase the manufacturer’s ability to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements. The US – EEA EFTA MRA was signed on October 17, 2005 and became effective on March 1, 2006.
Many of the US, EC and EEA EFTA marine equipment requirements are based on standards and testing specified by the Safety of Life At Sea Convention (SOLAS). Of all the equipment items that were considered, only products having identical or equivalent requirements in each market were included in the scope of the agreement. The two MRA’s product scope include the same 43 products in three main categories: life saving equipment (e.g. visual distress signals, marine evacuation systems); fire protection equipment (e.g. fire doors, insulation); and navigational equipment (e.g., compasses, GPS equipment, echo-sounding equipment).
A company that receives approval of their product under the US - EC MRA or the US – EEA EFTA MRA will be able to market that product in the US, the EC countries and the EEA EFTA countries while complying with only one set of regulatory requirements.
There are provisions in the two agreements for the addition of additional equipment to this list after the Parties conduct further examination of the technical regulations with a view to establishing, to the extent possible, mutual recognition.