In December 1998, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposed to the European Commission (EC) the negotiation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on marine equipment under the Transatlantic Economic Partnership. The goal of the MRA is to allow a manufacturer to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements instead of multiple ones, as would be the case without the MRA. This will directly lead to a reduction of costs for manufacturers in terms of testing and certification. Negotiations on an agreement began in late 1999. The Lifesaving & Fire Safety Standards Division (G-MSE-4) worked in close cooperation with USTR to develop the product scope based on a detailed product-by-product review of the U.S. and EC marine equipment requirements.
Many of the U.S. and EC marine equipment requirements are based on standards and testing specified by the Safety of Life At Sea Convention (SOLAS). Of all the equipment items that were considered, only products having identical or equivalent requirements in each market were included in the scope of the agreement. The initial MRA product scope includes 43 products in three main categories: life saving equipment (e.g. visual distress signals, marine evacuation systems); fire protection equipment (e.g. fire doors, insulation); and navigational equipment (e.g., compasses, GPS equipment, echo-sounding equipment).
Negotiations on this important mutual recognition agreement between the US and the EC were concluded in June 2003. The MRA on marine equipment is a result of a 5-year cooperative effort that recognizes the importance of facilitating U.S. - EC trade in marine equipment and promoting bilateral cooperation on international marine equipment regulations. The final version of the MRA was signed on February 27th, 2004 and it entered into force on July 1, 2004.