作者/ Justin Chu
首先，英國的產品已經不能使用CE認證，在大不列顛地區（英格蘭、蘇格蘭及威爾斯）取而代之的是英國的UKCA認證（英文全名UK Conformity Assessment，意即「符合英國評估」）。這對既往於歐盟及英國只有單一經銷商的國際貿易商尤其重要；這代表著國際貿易商需要在英國與歐盟地區內擁有各別經銷商，或委任當地代理以向認證負責機構取得地區相對應的認證，並且在該地區的市場上架產品。這是由於歐盟不再承認任何英國地區內的負責機構所給予的認證，且代表國際公司往後將支付額外認證費用才能繼續在上述兩地區內販售商品。
- 從歐盟地區中，經過歐盟負責機構認證後上市 -> 需要CE認證即可
- 從英國地區或經過英國地區到北愛爾蘭 -> 需要北愛爾蘭當地負責認證機構的UKNI認證
- 在2021年底前輸入大不列顛市場的產品 -> 有CE認證或UKCA認證皆可
- 在2022年開始時 -> 只接受經過英國地區負責機構認證的UKCA認證產品
Following Brexit, the UK underwent a series of changes to its regulations in regard to trading with the EU, Northern Ireland, and other countries starting January of 2021. On January 31st, 2020, Brexit happened. The UK and EU had to address the elephant in the room-- their future trading relationship. The EU is without a doubt, the UK's most important and closest trading partner, and thus long months of negotiations followed. After some background introduction, this article will introduce the different markings, which correspond to different standards respectively to the EU, UK, and Northern Ireland, and what they mean to future international trades both within and outside of the region.
On January 1st of 2021, a UK-EU trade deal finally became effective. With this deal, the UK no longer is required to follow EU product standards, while possibly not being able to export some animal products due to tighter EU laws. While the deal currently keeps any tariffs from being set into place, the possibility of tariffs in the future is not completely out of the picture. If either side was to venture too far away from the shared regulations such as environmental preservation and worker rights, then the opposite side could set tariffs.
On top of this trade deal, the UK has also negotiated deals with most countries that originally had trade deals with the EU. Since the UK no longer is automatically part of EU trade deals, negotiations to maintain the same deals the EU had with these countries were generally rolled over. Of course, some deals, namely one with Japan in 2020 and another with Australia in 2021, were different from the ones the EU originally had with these countries. All but three countries, Montenegro, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which the latter two are not part of the World Trade Organization, the UK has finished talking with already.
For the markings that this article talks about, namely the CE, UKCA, and UKNI markings, not all products actually require these markings. Some that don't require the aforementioned markings include cosmetics, foodstuffs, and certain chemicals. However, products ranging from toys to electrical equipment to medical devices all do require these markings, and the impact of international trade caused by the distinctions and regulations regarding markings are of focus here. These marking regulations can be mixed and matched before January of 2022 to allow flexible transitions during the year, and will have more strict distinctions starting then.
First off is the CE marking, which stands for Conformité Européenne, French for European Conformity. This marking shows that the product of which the marking is on conforms to the safety regulations the EU has set for the specific category the product is in. This assessment can be carried out by the manufacturer itself (if located in the EU), or by a notified and certified body that is located in the EU, which would incur fees. Prior to Brexit, the CE marking was used for products that were sold in the UK as well, meaning that international businesses would only need to pay/assign/be contracted with one notified body in order to obtain the necessary markings when they want to put their products onto the EU and UK markets. Now however, with the introduction of the UKCA and UKNI markings, businesses would be required to have assigned representatives for different regions, namely for the UK, Northern Ireland, and the EU, if they wanted to place their products on these respective markets.
The UK is no longer allowed to use CE marking, hence making the UKCA (which stands for UK Conformity Assessment) marking a requirement for products to be listed in the Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) market that formerly required CE markings. This is especially important to know for international businesses that only had one distributor in the EU/UK before. International businesses, if they do not desire to have separate distributors in the different regions, would have to have their distributor (whether in the UK or EU) appoint an authorized representative company in the other region to have a physical presence in order to get a regulation-complying marking to place products on the market. This is because the EU no longer recognizes representatives and responsible persons based in Great Britain, and further means that international companies now have to pay extra fees for extra markings if their products wished to be sold in both regions.
The United Kingdom Northern Ireland (UKNI) marking, is another conformity marking that is required for items that enter the Northern Ireland market from a UK based responsible body. It is a mandatory marking for products that do not have a CE marking. The dynamic here is interesting, since the UKNI marking is only required for UK products entering Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland products in turn do not need additional conformity markings other than any of the mentioned 3 to be placed on the UK market, but do require a CE marking to enter the EU market since UKNI is not recognized in the EU.
A brief summary of the markings and requirements for markets will be listed as such:
- Placing goods on the market in Northern Ireland
- From or through an EU conformity assessment body -> CE
- From or through a UK-based body -> CE and UKNI
- Placing goods on the market in Great Britain
- Manufactured goods placed on the market before end of 2021 -> UKCA and CE
- Goods placed on the market starting 2022 -> UKCA
- Unfettered Access for goods that are qualified in Northern Ireland and placed in the Great Britain market (CE, UKNI)
- Placing goods on the EU market -> CE
Although the UK has gone to great lengths to ensure stability after Brexit, its effects have rippled far and influenced how international trade would be within those regions, especially for businesses that were active in both the UK and EU. While additional charges and contracts may be deterring for businesses, new contracts and regulations also indicate opportunities. The recent Australia-UK free trade agreement for one, is a perfect example of how international trades could actually benefit from these changes (although it is feared that these imports will be too low-priced and could possibly impact the economic performance of similar products). Now is prime time for the world to decide to adjust accordingly, focusing on both or omitting one region, as well as observe how the UK plans to stand its ground with brand new trade deals. Brexit enabled the UK to save on membership costs and obtain full sovereignty, whether the action was worth it in the long run, time will tell.