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Russian and Chinese are Standard Forever?

Russian and Chinese are Standard Forever?

19.08.2009 — Analysis

Russia and China are continuing the harmonization of national technical regulations in order to reduce obstacles in the way of trade between the two countries. The RusBusinessNews observer has found out that the requirements to automotive industry products are the first in line.


Who says that Russia has not acceded the World Trade Organisation? The country is already there! This opinion is sometimes expressed by leaders of machine building and other companies constantly encountering tough international competition, mainly in the domestic market, due to the lack or insignificance of the protective national barriers.

Recent years saw not only the collapse of customs bastions, but also the breakdown of obstacles caused by the mismatches of various national standards and technical regulations to corresponding international norms. If formerly some foreign company wanting to sell its products in Russia had to adhere to Russian quality standards, then currently in many cases the compliance with a corresponding international standard would suffice.

Valentin Sursyakov, the Head of the Federal Institution "Urals Centre for Standardization, Metrology, and Certification", informed RusBusinessNews that at the moment around 40% of Russian quality standards conform to international norms.

At the same time the application of international standards has its own national interpretation. In order to have the common understanding some neighbouring countries with large trade turnover carry out regular bilateral consultations to achieve the so called harmonization, i.e. the convergence of requirements of technical regulations.

The Standing Russian-Chinese Working Group on Standardization, Metrology, Certification and Inspection Control has been working for the last seven years. The last regular session of the Group was held in August 2009 in Ekaterinburg. "At the moment there are eight technical regulations (regulatory legal acts stipulating mandatory requirements to products) adopted in Russia two out of which regulate automotive equipment. Since 2009 we and the Chinese are working on the convergence of requirements to this type of products", Vladimir Krutikov, the Deputy Head of the Federal Agency on Technical Regulation and Metrology of Russian Federation, told RusBusinessNews. "Our delegation went to China and studied how they test automobiles there. In the end of August we are expecting the reciprocal visit of the Chinese to Moscow. They also will be studying the requirements which have to be met by automobiles during tests".

The Working Group members explain that the harmonization of Russian and Chinese technical regulations will, first of all, involve the mutual acceptance of the laboratory inspection of product quality through the establishment of a single set of inspection practices. This would mean that if a laboratory in China receives Russian accreditation then certification authorities in Russia will recognize its test protocol for automotive parts and assemblies.

In theory the converse is possible, when a Russian laboratory receives Chinese accreditation. It is, however, hard to imagine LADA cars or Ural trucks on sale in the modern China.

The Chinese, however, recognise the benefits of the technical regulations harmonization. "Technical regulation, standardization, and compliance assessment procedure are the basis for the development of the economy and trade between our two countries. Representatives of Chinese companies express a very lively interest in our work as this work will ensure the quality of goods shipped to Russia", Sun Dawei, the Chief Administrator of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China, admitted candidly to RusBusinessNews.

Chinese car sales in Russia began in 2005 and within one and a half years Russia became the largest exporter of Chinese cars. A funny occasion springs to mind. A great many Chinese specialised trucks were exhibited at Russian Defence Expo (the international exhibition whose goal is to promote Urals companies’ products in the global market) in Nizhniy Tagil in July 2007. The demonstration of these trucks was discontinued at later exhibitions but that had not stopped the avalanche growth of sales of this equipment in Russia.

What do we need this technical regulation harmonization for, if only one party benefits from the process? "This is not a question that you should ask our committee", says Vladimir Krutikov. "We do not work on issues of the expansion or balancing of trade. At the moment there are more Chinese goods bought in Russia than volumes we sell to China. That is how trade is turning out at the moment. Our committee’s job is to achieve the improvement of quality of goods shipped to Chinese and Russian markets".

There remains a question of industry-specific priorities when Russian and Chinese technical regulations are being harmonized. Why do we start with the automotive industry where the trade imbalance is all too apparent? Should Russian representatives in the joint workgroup on standardization, maybe, propose other segments of machine building for consideration? These could be power engineering equipment manufacturing, for instance, a sphere in which China has yet not advanced too far.

Meanwhile the Ural Turbine Works has shipped 60 turbines to this country and has plans to win the tender for the supply of further 14. This company also has very serious plans for the establishment of a joint venture with Harbin Turbine Works. The complete convergence of technical regulations of the two countries in power engineering equipment manufacturing would significantly simplify achieving these goals.

Pavel Kober 

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