The past ten years has seen dramatic change in the world economy. A number of economic groups have emerged in different regions with the objective of promoting and protecting their own trade interests. To reach their objective, they have developed their own measures that can also serve to bar entry of countries outside the groups.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) while seeking to ensure that measures so adopted by different economies, whether in the form of technical regulations or standards, do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade, also recognizes that international standards and conformity assessment systems can help facilitate the conduct of international trade. Hence, under the WTO agreement on Technical Barriers to trade, members in the preparation of their technical regulations and the recognition of the conformity assessment are recommended the following approaches :
Harmonization of national standards with international standards;
Arrangement for mutual recognition (MRA) of conformity assessment procedures, which can be achieved through accreditation.
With this movement, Thailand sees the urgency of adjusting its standardization system to keep up with the international standardization development. It also recognizes the need to encourage the public and private sectors concerned with export to progress together in the same direction and in a more systematic and standardized fashion, to maintain competitivity in the world market. Hence, by the resolution of the Minister Council, the National Accreditation Council (NAC) of Thailand has been established to administer the accreditation system of the country.
Thai Accreditation System (TAS)
Through the process of the Thai accreditation system, the National Accreditation Council gives formal recognition that a conformity assessment body is competent to carry out specific function or task according to the relevant international requirement.
Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA) The accreditation programs provided by NAC has been recognized as equivalent to the other national accreditation schemes through the peer evaluation process.
Up to now, NAC has been the signatory to the following arrangement ;
the Pacific Accreditaion Cooperation (PAC) Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA) : Quality Management System (QMS) since August 2000;
the International Accreditaion Forum (IAF) Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA) : Quality Management System (QMS) since November 2000;
the Pacific Accreditaion Cooperation (PAC) Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA) : Environmental Management System (EMS) since November 2003.
NAC and Accreditation Subcommittee structure
The structure of NAC enables the participation of those involved, and having interests, in the accreditation, from the government and the private sector including the representative from the Professional Institute, Conformity Assessment Bodies, Manufacturers/Suppliers and Users. The composition of NAC shall be balanced where no single interest predominates is achieved. NAC is chaired by the Ministry of Industry, with the permanent Secretary of Ministry of Industry. The Vice-chair and ONAC representative will serve as the secretarial
NAC has main responsibility for providing national policy on accreditation in order to be recognized internationally as well as endorse accreditation to conformity assessment body.
The Accreditation Subcommittee (ASC) is the subsidiary committee, appointed by NAC, which has the responsibility for recommend and give advice to NAC in particular area concerned. The ASC structure also enable the participation of all significantly concerned parties in line with NAC structure as described earlier
NAC has as a policy to operate and coordinate systematically and impartially a single national accreditation system to meet international requirement.
Schemes Accreditation operated by NAC covers 3 schemes, the service of which is open respectively for the following organizations :
Quality system certification bodies
Environmental management system certification bodies
The following schemes are also planned to launch in the future
Hazard analysis and critical control point system certification bodies
Occupational health and safety management system certification bodies
In addition, since there are various Laboratory Accreditation Bodies providing the service in Thailand, ONAC has the role to coordinate with the Laboratory Accreditation Bodies within the country aiming at the single national laboratory accreditation system which will be recognized internationally.
The office of the National Accreditation Council of Thailand
The office of the National Accreditation Council of Thailand (ONAC) is a government agency under the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry. ONAC has been established to administer the accreditation system under policy of the National Accreditation Council.
ONAC has policies to provide accreditation services to all certification bodies in a non-discriminatory maner regardless of size, activities, financial or other condition of certification bodies.
All operational expenses will be allocated from the Government budget. All incomes will be treated as a Government incomes which shall be handed over to the Ministry of Finance according to relevant Government rules and regulations.