Korea to revamp gov‘t certification system

2024.02.28 09:51:01 | 2024.02.28 09:54:54

South Korea‘s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. [Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

South Korea‘s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. [Photo by Yonhap]

The South Korean government will embark on a major reform to revise the certification system, which has been criticized for burdening companies twice over by requiring separate certifications for export and domestic use.

The certification system overhaul was revealed by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo after a ministerial meeting on Tuesday. “Recognizing that there are redundant certification obligations and those that are not practically utilized, the government has devised a comprehensive improvement plan following a complete re-evaluation of all 257 existing certification obligations,” he said.

About 73.5 percent of the total 257 legally required certifications will be subject to the reform, with Han adding that the reform is expected to alleviate companies’ burdens by about 150 billion won ($112.6 million) annually.

The certifications required by the government have increased by about 100 over the past 10 years to the current total of 257. Major overseas countries impose certification requirements limited to safety, medical, and health sectors, with 93 legal certification requirements in the United States, 40 in the European Union, 18 in China, and 14 in Japan.

The government plans to abolish 24 certifications with low effectiveness that are duplicates of internationally recognized certifications or fail to reflect changes. For example, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety‘s certification for natural cosmetics and organic cosmetics will be abolished as it is deemed to be a duplicate of the internationally recognized Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard, commonly known as the Cosmos certification.

Eight certifications with similar targets, items, and procedures will also be integrated. For example, the “zero energy building” certification and the “building energy efficiency grade” certification managed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport are deemed to have almost identical verification targets and content, resulting in their integration.

Sixty-six certifications will reduce costs and streamline procedures. The Ministry of Science and ICT’s Information Security Management System (IMS) certification in particular significantly reduces the target companies to those with over 300 billion won from those with annual sales of over 100 billion won, while introducing simplified reviews to shorten the certification period. Under the current certification obligation, an online shopping mall operator with annual sales of over 100 billion won allegedly spends more than half of their annual revenue on maintaining their IMS certifications, which costs 100 million to 200 million won each time.

Ninety-one similar certifications that cause consumer confusion will be excluded from legally required certifications. For example, the certification given to “masters” in marine foods and managed by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the household service provider certification managed by the Ministry of Employment and Labor will be switched to designation systems rather than certification systems.

While many of these changes require approval from the National Assembly as they require amendments to the law, the government plans to start by revising 73 certifications that do not require these amendments.

The government also aims to introduce a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) system, where companies certify their own technology and take responsibility for safety while allowing private entities to certify them in specific areas.

By Hong Hae-jin and Chang Iou-chung

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