European Union and Australia renegotiate their Mutual Recognition Agreement
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Australia now has a new Amending Agreement which addresses some of the concerns voiced over previous years by removing the rule of origin requirement from the MRA (apart from the medical sectoral annexes) and introducing more flexibility into the Agreement by making the sectoral annexes of less-than-treaty status. This will allow the Joint Committee to change them without the need to undergo the domestic treaty process. Note that the Rule of Origin requirement prevented Australian Conformity Assessment Bodies from assessing products that had not originated in Australia. In 1999 EMCSI Pty Ltd made a submission to the Senate committee stating that the rule of origin severely weaken the treaty as many Australian exports to the EU are made from non Australian parts. EMCSI also pointed out that a similar treaty between the EU and the USA did not have the rule of origin requirement. At that time the Senate committee agreed with EMCSI's concerns.
The Amending Agreement recently went before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) which recommended binding treaty action. The Amending Agreement and JSCOT's report (No 125 for treaties tabled on 7 and 28 February 2012) can be found at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=jsct/reports.htm The report on the Amending Agreement is in Chapter 4. The medicinal products GMP and medical device sectoral annexes were updated as part of the Amending Agreement.
Australia is currently waiting on the EU to finalize its domestic treaty processes and hope that the Amending Agreement will enter into force by the end of the year.
Australia is now going through the process of updating the other sectoral annexes and will decide, along with the EU, which of the annexes are no longer required and, for those that remain, how they might be made more useful/informative.
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