On December 3 2012, the 17TH Asian Regulation and Certification Experts (RACE) Meeting on "Harmonization of Vehicle Technical Regulations & Mutual Recognition of Approvals," co-hosted by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and JAMA, was held in Manila.

Hosted a day before the JASIC1 Asia Government/Industry (GI) Meeting, the event aimed to consolidate updated industry standing and recommendations to promote uniform vehicle regulations and Mutual Recognition of Approvals (MRA) in the Asia region.
 
 
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Turtles for Indonesia: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program by PT Astra Daihatsu Motor

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Promoting greater participation and integration in the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP29)

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The meeting's agenda was to promote the development of the automobile industry in Asia, and aimed to advance vehicle safety and environmental protection based on United Nations (UN) regulations. It moved to the support of mutually recognize certification under the 1958 Agreement that incorporated these regulations.

The latest trends on the establishment of International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) and the 1958 Agreement Review discussed under the sub-groups of the United Nation WP29's IWVTA Informal Group were shared in the RACE Meeting as well. Within these groups, JAMA experts presented new important progress made in the latest 1958 Agreement Review and IWVTA discussion: (1) To allow Contracting Parties (CPs) to issue and accept type approvals according to earlier versions of UN Regulations, and (2) The flexible IWVTA scheme. These two motions were raised to attract more countries and regional economic integration organizations to participate in the activities.

The Need for Approvals on Regulations

Currently, the most updated series of regulations is the only series accepted under the 1958 Agreement, and all certificates of UN Regulations must be issued this way. This practice, however, creates incompatibility issues that are preventing some countries from acceding to the Agreement. At present, a few of the ASEAN Member States (AMSs) are adopting technical regulations that are different from the more advanced economies, which creates the need for a flexible scheme that accommodates all parties.

As a result, the review sub-group has moved to allow CPs to issue and accept type approvals according to an earlier series of UN Regulations. However, even if this motion is approved, it will still be mandatory for all CPs to accept approvals of the latest series, and CPs who have adopted them will have the right to reject earlier series approvals. Although there is still such a limitation, facilitating MRA among CPs who have adopted earlier versions under the 1958 Agreement will be recognized. As it provides some allowance for the parties involved, AMSs' representatives and industry members who participated in the RACE Meeting and JASIC Government/Industry Meeting welcome this motion.

The Flexible IWVTA Scheme

In principle, all CPs applying IWVTA should accept the latest set of UN Regulations necessary for Whole Vehicle Type Approvals. (At the moment, there are more than 70 UN regulations under discussion for an ideal IWVTA, also known as the universal IWVTA, out of the 128 established UN Regulations to date.)

While acceptance of the most updated series is less of a problem, compatibility issues still exist. On top of that, the number of UN Regulations to be adopted among countries varies depending on the capacity and readiness of each nation. This is especially true for emerging countries or economic integration organizations that choose to adopt an earlier series under the universal IWVTA. Hence, it is not realistic to expect all CPs to adopt the IWVTA in 2016, unless a flexible mechanism that gives a CP the right to apply its desired number and series of UN regulations is given.

Based on the differences in stringency levels and numbers of technical regulations used between advanced economies and emerging countries, the motion to install a flexible mechanism – known as a flexible IWVTA scheme – is in discussion with the IWVTA informal Group.

Under this scheme, a CP can notify that it will accept any combination of individual regulations from the universal IWVTA under an IWVTA of limited recognition, which will then be issued. "Limited recognition" here implies that such IWVTA can only be accepted by another CP which has been adopted under the same number and level series of technical requirements. However, even if this scheme is approved, each CP, including those that accept IWVTA of limited recognition, shall still accept the latest version of universal IWVTA.

Given the limitation, nonetheless, the prospect of allowing CPs who are still unable to adopt the universal IWVTA to conduct an IWVTA of limited recognition under the flexible scheme is still attractive to emerging economies. As such, members of the ASEAN automotive industries have also expressed their support for the flexible IWVTA scheme during the RACE Meeting.

Conclusion

The above proposals, if approved and finalized in 2016 by the WP29, will open up opportunities to establish flexible IWVTA and MRA for vehicle parts and systems. The latter is agreed by the RACE Meeting to be suitable for use under the ASEAN MRA, that is expected to be implemented from 2015 onwards. The RACE Meeting also concluded that Asian auto-industry members from Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam support the motion of the flexible IWVTA.

These views, along with the industry's requirement of 2 plus 2 years lead time prior to the implementation of new regulations, and support of 1958 Agreement's principle to accept the latest series of UN Regulations, were presented by a RACE Representative to the 17th JASIC G/I Meeting the following day to be considered by transport authorities across Asia.

Group photo of the 17th RACE Meeting held in Manila in Dec 2012

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