About the IRC Toolkit

The international regulatory cooperation (IRC) toolkit gives practical guidance on different regulatory cooperation options and the factors needed for successful cooperation.

The toolkit highlights the potential costs and benefits of different approaches. It also includes case studies that show how international regulatory cooperation has worked in practice, including lessons learnt.

It is intended for everyone who works with regulation, whether as a policy advisor or regulator, in a regulatory agency. In New Zealand “regulatory agency” is a broad concept that includes government departments and independent regulators. The Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice provides more information.

In this toolkit, “regulation” refers to both primary legislation and secondary or delegated legislation. This reflects New Zealand’s approach to international regulatory cooperation. Some countries focus their international regulatory cooperation efforts on a smaller category of secondary legislation made by regulators. The toolkit is relevant to whatever approach is taken

Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice [PDF, 268.09KB](external link) — Te Tai Ōhanga | The Treasury

IRC in a nutshell

IRC is important to improve the quality and effectiveness of regulation

International regulatory cooperation (IRC) refers to the actions, formal or informal, that a country can take, while supporting its domestic policy objectives, to:

  • accommodate international considerations in the design and implementation of domestic regulation; or
  • reduce the impact of differences in regulatory settings across countries.

International regulatory cooperation can:

  • help reduce barriers to support trade and investment
  • improve the effectiveness of domestic regulation to meet its policy objectives
  • make regulation easier to design, implement and enforce
  • help solve big global issues, such as climate change or tax avoidance, where one country cannot deal with the issue on its own.

IRC capability is fundamental for all policy and operational roles because we live in an interconnected world. Almost no regulatory system is solely domestic anymore. Economies rely on cross-border flows of people, goods, services and capital, but different or duplicative regulatory requirements across countries can reduce those flows or make them more costly.

Things that happen outside our borders can impact on the operation of domestic regulation, yet those actors, things or actions may be beyond the reach of our regulators. For example, take a consumer who buys goods online from an overseas business. If the goods turn out to be different from the online description, it will be challenging, if not impossible, for the consumer or a consumer protection regulator to take effective action against an overseas seller for a breach of domestic consumer protection laws. IRC can help with this situation.

Taking international elements into account in regulatory design and delivery is no longer optional; it is essential. Businesses sell their goods in an international environment, service providers may work across borders, and the impacts of global issues, such as a pandemic or climate change, affect domestic markets.

Governments often have IRC expectations for the design and operation of their regulatory systems. New Zealand has the Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice which details how all regulatory agencies should consider IRC in their work.

Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice [PDF, 268.09KB](external link) — Te Tai Ōhanga | The Treasury

We are here to help

This toolkit is an initiative of the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

We help promote international regulatory cooperation to New Zealand regulatory agencies. This toolkit is part of our efforts to support agencies to consider this in their work.

We also collaborate with counterparts in international organisations like Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For more information see:

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)(external link)

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)(external link)

APEC-OECD IRC resource

We have recently launched the APEC-OECD International Regulatory Cooperation Resource. The Resource is designed to be a source of information and evidence that can be used by APEC and OECD members to support their efforts in IRC in their domestic processes to help facilitate trade and investment, and to improve regulatory effectiveness.

The Resource is available here:

APEC-OECD International Regulatory Cooperation Resource(external link) — APEC

Case studies

The case studies in this toolkit reflect the point in time when they were written. They are useful as practical examples of IRC in action and for the lessons learnt from that experience. Case studies may be updated from time to time to reflect new developments.

IRC toolkit case studies