The idea of technical harmonization can be traced to the concept of Mutual Recognition of Approvals (MRA) under the United Nations’ 1958 Agreement, which states that if an automotive product is tested and granted approval from a Contracting Party (CP), it will be accepted by other CPs without retesting-“tested once accepted everywhere”. However, for each CP to accept each other’s approvals with confidence, the regulations adopted by each CP will have to comply with the technical requirements of these regulations, better known as the United Nations Regulations (UN-Rs), annexed to the Agreement.Although, ASEAN has not yet acceded as one singular entity to the 1958 Agreement, both Malaysia and Thailand have already acceded to this agreement, and other ASEAN Member States are considering or working towards becoming a CP. At the very least, ASEAN has completed the drafting of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ASEAN MRA) for Automotive Products. The ASEAN MRA which, in principle, harmonizes technical regulations based on the UN-Rs, is expected to be signed by ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) within 2015. The ASEAN MRA for Automotive Products is an agreement, among other regional agreements such as AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Agreement) and MRAs for 11 other priority product sectors targeted for ASEAN market integration, to supplement the materialization of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by removing Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).Due to the abovementioned increasing need to harmonize technical standards in the ASEAN region, the importance of this AAF/TC3-JAMA forum has grown over the years, the number of participants has doubled, and the annual meeting has become biannual. Representatives from the two-wheeler segment have also attended this four-wheeler forum in view of the need to harmonize its stance with the four-wheeler segment, especially on matters pertaining to the ASEAN MRA.
The following paragraphs provide a brief report on the outcomes of the 22nd AAF/TC3-JAMA Meeting. The Meeting was divided into three Working Groups, namely WG1, 2 and 3; and two special groups-ASEAN MRA and Road Safety. The function of each group in brief: WG1 (Environment and Fuel) discusses automotive regulations that are related to environment and fuels, such as emission and noise regulations, and fuel specifications that include alternative fuels; WG2 (Certification) discusses homologation issues, WG3 (UN Regulations Adoption and Safety) discusses automotive regulations related to safety; the ASEAN MRA WG and the Road Safety WG are groups recently set up to address concerns on regional programs, namely the ASEAN MRA and the promotion of research on ASEAN Road Safety to improve road safety respectively.
On Environment and Fuel regulations (WG1)
The WG1 session concluded that the industry supports the implementation of Euro 4/5 emission regulations, but for the smooth implementation of these regulations, ASEAN Member States (AMSs) are to provide: (1) corresponding fuels that satisfy specifications as per recommended by the AAF (see http://www.jama-english.jp/asia/news/2014/vol55/article2.html); (2) clear and consistent target implementation timelines for each vehicle categories; and (3) sufficient lead time given to the industry.
On Certification (WG2)
The WG2 session did not conclude with any particular recommendation this time, but AAF/TC3 member associations exchanged updates on current and future plans toward the accession of the 1958 Agreement of their respective countries, Conformance of Production (COP) requirements, and establishment of testing facilities. Notably, Indonesia is targeting to accede to the 1958 Agreement within 2015, and the Philippines aims for accession in 2016.
On UN-R Adoption and Safety (WG3)
There was also no particular recommendation in this session. However, due to concerns of potential differences in Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that may affect future technical harmonization processes, AAF/TC3 association members shared information of each country’s VIN system and identified their differences, despite how VIN is not yet mandatory in some countries. Further discussion on these differences may be conducted in the next WG3 session. The WG3 session followed with a clarification by JAMA experts on the definitions and functions of VIN: (1) VIN coding is linked with Certification System (for the market); (2) VIN Stamping requirement (for the market) is linked to production facilities; (3) Global manufacturers may have their own system commonly used worldwide.
On ASEAN MRA
It was announced at the session that the drafting of the ASEAN MRA has been completed and is on track for legal scribing and signing within this year. As references to the AAF/TC3 members, JAMA experts also presented the latest deliberation outcome of the Revision of 1958 Agreement to recognize earlier series of UN-R, amongst others, and the extension of its MRA from parts and systems to whole vehicle during the ASEAN MRA session. Although the ASEAN MRA is currently looking at parts and system approvals only, industry members are looking forward to its extension to whole vehicle type approval in future.
On Road Safety
The Meeting discussed the importance of developing road safety and agreed on the following key points:
a)Road safety is essential for the sustainable development of the automotive industry and the automotive industry desires a safer automotive society.
b)Road safety is achieved through joint efforts among governments, manufacturers and road users. To achieve road safety, the industry is willing to offer safer vehicles and participate in programs to develop road safety.
c)Road safety measures or policies should be decided according to each country’s needs in the most scientific and transparent manner, together with stakeholders.
Next AAF/TC3-JAMA Meeting
Participants generally expressed that they have benefitted from this one-stop exchange of regulatory information pertaining to automotive products in the region, and they look forward to the next AAF/TC3-JAMA Meeting, which is expected to be held in September.