International cooperation through the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand

This case study examines international regulatory cooperation between New Zealand and Australia through the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).


JAS-ANZ is an example of formal cooperation between New Zealand and Australia through creation of a joint institution. JAS-ANZ was established under an international treaty agreement between the 2 countries on 30 October 1991. The Treaty was changed in 1998 to update JAS-ANZ accountability and governance.

As an independent accreditation authority, JAS-ANZ provides internationally recognised assurance that certifiers and inspectors (Conformity Assessment Bodies) are competent to carry out independent quality assessments of systems. Accreditation by JAS-ANZ supports international trade and provides consumers with confidence that the goods and services they consume comply with established standards.

The trans-Tasman trade policy environment from the 1980s onwards paved the way for JAS-ANZ. The entry into force of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement on 1 January 1983 was followed by a series of agreements and arrangements which aimed to establish a single economic market between the 2 countries.  In the area of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment, these agreements included the Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Barriers to Trade in 1988 and the Agreement on Standards, Accreditation and Quality in 1990. 

JAS-ANZ is 1 of 2 separate joint institutions that have been set up under formal agreements to provide functions on behalf of both economies; the other is Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The organisation’s key objectives are to establish an internationally recognised accreditation system for quality management systems and product certification, and to support trade between Australia and New Zealand. The agreement was changed in 1998 to update JAS-ANZ’s structural, accountability and governance arrangements.

JAS-ANZ is jointly governed and accountable

JAS-ANZ is governed by a Board made up of 10 members. 6 members are appointed by the responsible Australian Minister for Industry and Science and 3 by the New Zealand Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Chief Executive of JAS-ANZ is the tenth member of the Board. The Board’s accountability arrangements include providing annual plans and reports to both Ministers.

The cooperation surrounding JAS-ANZ is broader than just the organisation. The joint ownership of JAS-ANZ is a conduit for a number of working relationships. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources manage their governments’ respective relationships with JAS-ANZ and support appointment and accountability processes. Ministers and government officials from both countries cooperate closely to carry out their oversight and responsibilities for JAS-ANZ, and to discuss relevant policy issues. JAS-ANZ can also provide a link between the quality infrastructure institutions and regulators that use accreditation in both countries.


JAS-ANZ is not a regulator. Its role is to provide accreditation services, support international trade between New Zealand and Australia, to establish links with national and international bodies, and uphold quality standards and the international acceptance of goods and services. Arguably, a joint service delivery function is easier to establish than a joint regulatory function – because the reduction in policy and regulatory sovereignty is minimal. JAS-ANZ is a not-for-profit organisation, and its funding comes from the fees it charges for its services. It does not receive government funding. This removes the potential complication and uncertainty of the governments’ having to agree and allocate funding to JAS-ANZ through their annual budget decisions, which involve a range of competing priorities.

Accreditation authorities such as JAS-ANZ are present in most developed economies. They are generally mandated by governments. They have also formed, participate in, and ‘self-regulate’ through, international networks of accreditation authorities. These networks, of which JAS-ANZ is an active participant, cooperate to ensure accreditation authorities use consistent and robust approaches to accreditation that meet internationally agreed standards. They also ensure that certificates issued by accreditation authorities can be relied upon anywhere in the world.

The technical nature of JAS-ANZ’s role and the fact that it generally works to implement international standards and approaches (rather than domestic policy preferences) means it has been suited to formal institutional cooperation. New Zealand has benefited from the harmonisation of the services that it provides, and access to a larger pool of resources and expertise through a trans-Tasman organisation. JAS-ANZ has endured as an integral part of both economies accreditation system for over 3 decades.

New Zealand’s quality infrastructure also includes organisations such as Standards New Zealand, International Accreditation New Zealand and the Measurement Standards Laboratory.


Cooperation through international governmental organisations like JAS-ANZ is rare internationally. They generally require a strong and enduring commitment from the participating economies. They also require special legally binding agreements, such as an international treaty, to  carry out functions on behalf of the governments involved.

Key lessons

According to analysis by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), legally binding forms of cooperation like JAS-ANZ involve a ‘strong commitment to reciprocity, provide the greatest certainty of outcomes and are the most durable cooperative arrangements’.* However, legally binding forms of cooperation are not suited to all circumstances. ANZSOG also noted they can reduce each country’s ability to determine its own policy and regulations. Countries also face practical difficulties developing arrangements because of different approaches to public sector management, accountability, regulation, and funding. While these arrangements can have similar intentions and principles, they are different in detail.

Analysing the relationships between countries can assist in identifying aspects that could benefit from similar cooperation arrangements. Adapting to the unique situations in each economy can help ensure that cooperation arrangements are designed in a way that is mutually advantageous.

References and further reading

JAS-ANZ(external link) —

Agreement between New Zealand and Australia [PDF 856 KB](external link) — Australasian Legal Information Institute

Arrangements for facilitating Trans-Tasman government institutional co-operation [PDF 987.58 KB](external link) — ANZSOG