LCQ7: Promoting development of testing and certification industry

     Following is a question by the Hon Chung Kwok-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, in the Legislative Council today (April 11):
     It is learnt that the testing and certification (T&C) industry provides testing, inspection and certification services for various trades to ensure that their products and services comply with international standards.  It provides important support for the manufacturing industry and export trade as well as the high-end manufacturing industry introduced under the policy of re-industrialisation.  Currently, the Hong Kong Accreditation Service (HKAS) under the Innovation and Technology Commission provides accreditation service under which T&C establishments are given official recognition of their competence in carrying out specific conformity assessment tasks.  Regarding the promotion of the development of the T&C industry, will the Government inform this Council:
(1)  given that the HKAS has currently entered into mutual recognition arrangements with 100 accreditation bodies in 99 economies, of the type of T&C services covered under the arrangements; the testing technologies and certification criteria involved in those services; how the authorities will seek a wider recognition of Hong Kong's T&C services internationally; and
(2)  given that the HKAS is a member of international organisations such as the International Accreditation Forum and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, of the degree of participation of the HKAS in such organisations; whether the HKAS has proposed to such organisations the adoption of the certification criteria and testing methods developed in Hong Kong to create a brand of "Tested in Hong Kong, Certified in Hong Kong", with a view to building a leading position for Hong Kong's T&C industry internationally (particularly in the Southeast Asian region with a lower level of T&C technology), thus tapping new markets; if so, of the outcome, including whether the proposals have been accepted; if the HKAS has not, the reasons for that, and whether it will allocate more resources to take forward the relevant work?
     My consolidated reply to the two parts of the question is as follows:
     The Hong Kong Accreditation Service (HKAS) has been proactively participating in mutual recognition arrangements (MRA) with different accreditation bodies around the world, with an aim to seeking the recognition of the reports/certificates issued by the HKAS-accredited testing and certification bodies by other MRA signatories.  Currently, the HKAS has entered into MRA with 100 accreditation bodies in 99 economies (including all Hong Kong's major trading partners), covering testing, calibration, medical testing, inspection, quality management system certification, environmental management system certification, food safety management system certification, product certification, energy management system certification and greenhouse gas validation and verification, etc.
     Following the requirements of international accreditation co-operation bodies, the HKAS will consider an organisation's application for accreditation in accordance with the relevant international standards.  For instance, when assessing non-medical testing laboratories' accreditation applications, the HKAS will consider whether they comply with ISO/IEC 17025 "General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories", whereas for certification bodies, their applications will be considered in accordance with ISO/IEC 17021-1, "Conformity assessment - Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems - Part 1: Requirements".
     Apart from expanding the scope of multilateral recognition arrangements, the HKAS has also been participating actively in international accreditation policy-making, so as to achieve wider international recognition of the assessment results issued by accredited Hong Kong testing and certification bodies.  For instance, the HKAS staff members would attend meetings of international accreditation co-operation bodies, and participate in their committees, working groups and task forces as chairperson or member.  Besides, the HKAS has hosted a number of meetings and workshops of these organisations in Hong Kong (e.g. the meeting of the Board of Management of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation in 2017) and has contributed articles to their newsletters.  All these help raise the profile of the HKAS in the international accreditation community. 
     Through the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification (HKCTC), the Government has been taking forward various publicity initiatives to promote the branding of "Tested in Hong Kong, Certified in Hong Kong".  For instance, we have participated actively in numerous local and overseas trade fairs, covering business areas like fashion, lighting, electronics, food, toys and jewellery, etc.  We also take part in the "In Style • Hong Kong" Expo held in Southeast Asia.  Through setting up booths and displaying publicity materials in these trade exhibitions, we promote local testing and certification services to buyers/manufacturers from around the world.
     We have also been supporting new testing and certification opportunities in different business areas.  For example, with the Gemmological Association of Hong Kong (GAHK) announcing its new standard methods for testing Fei Cui in March 2017, the HKCTC and the GAHK co-organised a seminar to introduce to stakeholders the new standards.  At the seminar, local and Mainland/overseas speakers as well as representatives from international industry organisations exchanged views on how the new standards could be promoted to places outside Hong Kong.
     The Government and the HKCTC will continue to implement the above initiatives to facilitate the development of the testing and certification industry in Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:38