World Trade Organisation: “Governments often find that the solution is use accreditation”

Industry News June 4, 2024
World Trade Organisation: “Governments often find that the solution is use accreditation”
NATA team

Accreditation Matters 2024 International Keynote speaker, Devin McDaniels, explains why he thinks accreditation is the unsung hero of global trade 

June 9th is World Accreditation Day. This year the theme is Accreditation: Empowering Tomorrow and Shaping the Future.  

Ahead of the annual celebration, we spoke with Devin McDaniels to gauge his thoughts as he gets ready to travel to Sydney later this month for NATA’s Accreditation Matters conference. 

It may have been a dark and rainy view from our window in Sydney, but that didn’t damper the excitement of Devin McDaniels, who will visit the city for the first time at Accreditation Matters. “I studied abroad in Brisbane and I loved my time there, but it’s been a while since coming back”. The ‘beautiful harbour’ and ‘famous flat whites’ are both global exports he’s looking forward to experiencing in-person.   

But it’s not just our caffeinated concoctions or breath-taking views McDaniels, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Deputy Secretary of the Technical Barriers to Trade Committee is looking to taking in, “From the WTO side, it’s really important for us to engage with all the stakeholders and our members, and really talk about the importance of how standards, regulations are shaping conformity assessment. I think one of the big challenges is trying to communicate these types of issues to a wide range of stakeholders. We have those who are really deeply steeped in this topic. It’s an incredibly complex area. And it just gets deeper and deeper as the more time you spend in it – which is why I think it’s great that you’re organising this event to really try to make it a bit more understandable”. 

McDaniels’ keynote will look at how accreditation facilitates trade on a global scale and why he says: “Accreditation is a toolkit that can help you tap into new markets”.  

“The part I think is important is the role that accreditation can play and does play in supporting governments around the world, including, different government departments in Australia, in helping them fulfil their missions. It’s a really important tool that supports both businesses and governments.” 

Speaking about how he encounters accreditation within his own role, McDaniels explained that the WTO is a place where governments come together when their private sectors are facing trade issues. It can help sort out ‘regulatory bottlenecks and paperwork’, which can hold business up. Governments have practical problems that they come to the WTO to talk about, and often the solution is ‘use accreditation more’. “One example we see a lot of times, is that testing, is not accepted by another trading partner. In these cases, discussion between the government reveals the fact that actually accreditation is the tool that can be used. There’s some untapped potential there…for accreditation to do even more than today, to facilitate global trade”.  

The dissemination of emerging technologies is changing the role of a customs agent at borders. New tools from big data, Internet of Things (IoT), all the way down to blockchain, AI and machine learning are helping to make these processes more efficient. “So as that’s happening, we see that actually accreditation will probably need to play even a bigger role as well than it does today. There will be a lot more challenges around how to establish trust in this type of environment, how to have confidence in the product at hand, how to make sure that we are addressing the risk efficiently while demonstrating technical competence”.  

McDaniels says there is “an important role of accreditation in areas which aren’t being discussed right now, like climate change. We know that Australia and other countries have committed to reducing their emissions, along with many global businesses. Measurement, certification and validation are key components in the discussion, which is why accreditation will have a major role to play. We might not be talking about it enough, but it’s a really important tool in the fight against climate change”.  

You can hear more on the increasing importance of accreditation to the WTO within areas like climate change, industry as well as global trade when McDaniel’s delivers his international keynote at Accreditation Matters 2024, on June 25 and 26.

Register now to secure your seat.