Better recognition of construction materials test reports, certifications

Quality of building materials is of paramount importance to ensure quality of construction, says Ahmad Asri

By HABHAJAN SINGH

Malaysia and its neighbouring countries are making progress in recognising each other’s construction materials test reports and certifications, a key measure in overcoming trade barriers.

In a meeting in Melaka last week, Asean members finalised a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) towards recognising construction materials test reports and certifications issued by accredited certification
bodies in the respective countries.

“As stated in Malaysia’s Construction Industry Transformation Programme (CITP), the quality of building materials is of paramount importance to ensure the quality of construction,” Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) CEO Datuk Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid (picture) said in a statement.

CIDB enforces the conformance to standards of building materials under the CIDB Act 1994, also known as Act 520.

CITP 2016-2020 is Malaysia’s national agenda to transform the construction industry to be highly productive and environmentally sustainable with globally competitive players, while focusing on safety and quality standards.

CITP’s four strategic thrusts are quality, safety and professionalism; environmental sustainability; productivity; and internationalisation.

Commenting on the 20th meeting of the Asean Task Force on Building and Construction (TFBC), Ahmad Asri said the mutual recognition will go a long way in facilitating the construction industry in all Asean countries by easing technical barriers to trade within the region.

“Nonetheless, we must not only contribute towards ensuring quality, but also facilitate the ease-of-doing business for the industry as a whole. Our goal is to facilitate and not to frustrate,” he said.

The importance of the move is captured in Asean’s statement on standards and conformance.

More than standards themselves, it is often duplicative testing procedures arising from different systems of conformity assessment in various countries that have become serious barriers to trade, the regional block noted in an entry at its website.

Recognising the contribution of these two “pillars” to facilitate and liberalise trade and investment in the region, it added that the Asean Consultative Committee for Standards and Quality (ACCSQ) has endeavoured to harmonise national standards with international standards and implement MRAs on conformity assessment to achieve its end-goal of “One Standard, One Test, Accepted Everywhere”.

In checking for quality of imported construction materials, CIDB said in the statement it has taken the lead by accepting test reports and certification from accredited local and foreign laboratories, including from Asean member countries, since 2003.

TFBC was formed under the umbrella of ACCSQ with the objective of developing MRAs to enable mutual recognition of test reports and certification of the building and construction materials issued by conformity assessment bodies of respective Asean countries.

At the Melaka meeting, the task force worked on finalising the MRA draft to be signed by all Asean member state representatives at a later date.

As an initial step, three construction materials — steel bar, cement and glass — have been identified in the MRA, according to the CIDB statement.