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Last update : 20/09/2019

What's New?

From left to right: M. Ulaczyk (2nd Deputy), D. Yarom (outgoing Chair), S. Walter (incoming Chair), A. Carson (1st Deputy)

SC Meeting in Tel Aviv

Geneva (20 September 2019): The 85th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 11 September 2019 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel). It was attended by 62 officials representing 18 out of 20 Contracting States (Austria and Sweden did not attend), 3 Applicant States (Italy, Serbia and Ukraine) as well as guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, China, North-Macedonia, Romania, Russia, and Spain.

The new Type 2 CCM is applied

The SC noted that the Depositary had confirmed the entry into force of the Convention's revised Technical Annexes.  Some Assay Offices such as the Swiss Assay Office have started applying the new Type 2 Common Control Mark (CCM). However, the implementation process of the revised Annexes has not been completed by 5 out of 20 Contracting States.  These are: Austria, Cyprus, Latvia, Poland, and Portugal.  Poland and Portugal were unable to confirm whether they accepted precious metal articles bearing the new Type 2 CCM.  The Chairperson invited these States to clarify the situation as soon as possible, as this could damage the reputation of the Convention as a reliable instrument to facilitate the trade of precious metal articles.

The SC also noted that all new CCMs, introduced under the revised Annexes, had been notified to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).  This included Type 2 CCM and Type 1 CCM for Pt 990, 600 & 500; Au 990, 800 & 417; Pd 990; Ag 990, 958 & 835.  All these marks will be published on WIPO's Article 6ter Express Database on 30 September 2019. 

After a 15.1% increase in 2018, the number of CCM articles continued to increase by 9.2% in the first half of 2019 and totalled 2,785,333 articles.  Switzerland recorded the highest number of CCM articles followed by the UK.

Review of membership applications

The SC reviewed the accession process of Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. Italy reported some delays in the ratification of the Convention but hoped to complete the process within the next few months. Serbia announced that a draft law on the ratification of the Convention would be submitted to the Government and then to the Parliament.  Sri Lanka did not attend the meeting.  After several years of non-attendance, Ukraine participated in the SC and informed Members that the new Government intended to resume the ratification process.  Considering that Ukraine was invited to join the Convention in 2005, the SC nominated a Delegation consisting of Mr Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia) and Ms Katarzyna Nadara (Polish Regional AO of Warsaw) to visit Ukraine. 

Standing Technical Group

The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), reported on its 25th meeting held in Brügg (Switzerland) on 1-2 July 2019, during which it discussed issues in relation with the new Type 2 CCM, the Round Robin on testing and the Round Robin on Marking.  The STG has started drafting guidelines on the CCM, which will comprise general guidance on the quality of reproduction of the CCM (type 1 and type 2) and guidance on the security and CCM punch makers.

The Deputy Chairman of the STG, Mr Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia), gave a presentation on the outcome of the 2018 Round Robin on laser marking using Type 1 CCM (Ag°925), which was co-organised by the Sheffield and Latvian Assay Offices. 

On behalf of the STG, Ms Katarzyna Nadara (Polish Regional AO of Warsaw) presented the results of the Round Robin on testing in 2019, which comprised 3 samples (gold, silver and palladium), which were tested by XRF and by chemical analysis.  The SC confirmed that participation in Round Robin by XRF is compulsory for all Assay Offices.  The next Round Robin will be postponed to the second half of 2020, thus allowing sufficient time to launch the new Round Robin Portal.

The SC mandated the STG to discuss guidelines on offsite marking and address, amongst other issues, the issue on offsite marking by company staff under the supervision of Assay Office staff.

Reports from Working Groups on Model Law and Vision & Strategy

The Chairperson of the Working Group on Model Law (WGML), Ms. Nataša Mejak-Vukovic (Slovenia), reported on the work undertaken by the WGML since it was established at the last SC meeting in Ljubljana.  WG Members prepared a mandate, which was adopted by the SC.  They also agreed to establish guidelines on how to establish a model law on precious metal control and to collect all available laws.  The Working Group comprises Members from Croatia, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.

The Working Group on Vision and Strategy met the day before the SC and discussed its mandate, which will be submitted to the SC by written procedure.  It started to review the comments received from Ministries during the consultation period.  The Working Group comprises Members from Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Integration of the IAAO

The International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO) met in Ramat Motza (Israel) on 12 September 2019 and collectively agreed to terminate the Association by 31 December 2019.  The IAAO discussed final arrangements regarding its assets, website and archives.  The day before, the SC reviewed preparations for the integration of IAAO Members and agreed to adopt a related revision of the SC's Compilation of Acts by the end of the year.  The integration of IAAO Members will take place in the first half of 2020. 

Elections

As this was the last meeting chaired by Ms Dalia Yarom (Israel), the SC bid farewell to Ms Yarom.  Mr Scott Walter (Edinburgh Assay Office) was elected as Chairman for a two-year term, starting on 1 November 2019 and ending on 31 December 2021. 

The current First Deputy Chairman, Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office), decided to not seek re-election.  In line with the Rules of Procedure, he was replaced by the current Second Deputy Chairperson, Ms. Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Polish Regional Assay Offices), who was elected as First Deputy Chairperson for a two-year term, starting on 1 January 2020 and ending on 31 December 2021.

The SC elected the current STG Chairman, Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), as the new Second Deputy Chairman for a two-year term, starting on 1 January 2020 and ending on 31 December 2021.

In brief...


Next meeting in Gdansk

The next SC meeting will take place in Gdansk (Poland) on 18 March 2020.

 


Dates of Next Meetings


Geneva (20 March 2019): The next meeting of the Standing Committee will take place as follows:

- 18 March 2020, Gdansk (Poland) 

- 30 September to 1 October 2020, Geneva (Switzerland)

- Spring 2021, Cyprus (TBC)

- Autumn 2021, Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

NB: Attendance is restricted to Members, Observers and Guests only.

 


SC Meeting in Ljubljana

Geneva (19 March 2019): The 84th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 14 March 2019 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel). The meeting was opened by Mr. Franc Stanonik, General Director, Internal Market, Ministry for Economic Development & Technology, Republic of Slovenia; and Dr. Samo Kopač, Director, Metrology Institute of Republic of Slovenia.  It was attended by 56 officials representing all Contracting States, 1 Applicant State (Italy) as well as guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Russia.

The Technical Annexes enter into force

The SC noted that the implementation process of the revised Convention's Technical Annexes (and related Compilation of Technical Decisions) was still ongoing in 6 out of 20 Contracting States.  These are: Austria, Cyprus, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovak Republic.  In the absence of any notification by the Depositary indicating that an objection had been received, the revised Annexes entered into force on 1 January 2019.  In line with the revised Annexes, the SC accepted a query by the Norwegian Assay Office to subcontract its testing competence to another authorised Assay Office, provided that the volume of articles to be marked does not increase and that the Assay Office, to which the testing competence will be subcontracted, complies with the conditions of the Technical Decisions.  The SC also approved a pragmatic approach regarding the reproduction of the new standardised Common Control Mark (CCM), which has been introduced in the revised Annexes.  It mandated the Standing Technical Group (STG) to draft guidelines in order to ensure consistency in the reproduction of the CCM and to keep the drawings safe.  The SC discussed the interpretation to be given to Article 11(5) of the Convention, which does not explicitly set a deadline for the communication of possible objections regarding the revision of the Convention’s Annexes.  The SC agreed that any objection to the revised Annexes must be communicated within a period of 3 months to the Depositary. 

Italy to join in the course of the year

The SC reviewed the accession process of Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.  Italy reported that it should be able to ratify the Convention before the next SC meeting.  No progress was reported on the ratification process of Serbia, which was not represented at the SC meeting.  A new Head of the Assay Office is in the process of being appointed in Sri Lanka: it is hoped that once this has materialised, the long-scheduled technical follow-up visit will eventually take place.  The ratification of the Convention in Ukraine is allegedly blocked by the Office of the President while it is supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The SC Chairperson will write to Ukraine once the presidential elections have taken place in Ukraine.

New Working Groups (Model Law and Vision & Strategy)

The SC decided to establish a new Working Group on Model Law, which will comprise Members from Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.  It will be chaired by Ms. Nataša Mejak-Vukovic (Slovenia).  The model law should make it easier for other States, wishing to accede to the Convention, to introduce a legislative framework on the control of precious metal articles.

The SC noted that comments from 8 Ministries (out of 20) had been received following the consultation of Contracting States on the future Vision and Strategy of the Convention.  The SC decided to re-establish the Working Group on Vision and Strategy in order to review these comments and make recommendations on the implementation of the proposed vision and strategy.  The Working Group will comprise Members from Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Merger with the IAAO

The SC discussed a joint paper by the SC Chairperson and the Chairman of the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO), which proposed to integrate the IAAO into the Convention.  Comments received in writing from the Visegrad Group of Assay Offices (GV4) as well as the Spanish Association of Assay Offices (KRISOS) were reviewed.  After some discussions, the SC agreed in principle to integrate the IAAO and grant their Members a special status.  The IAAO was invited to vote by written procedure on the merger so that the necessary arrangements can be adopted at the next SC meeting.

Round Robin

The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), reported on its 24th meeting held by teleconference on 31 January 2019, during which it discussed the technical specifications of Type 2 CCM as well as a rework project of the Round Robin (RR) Portal.  The project was also endorsed in principle by the SC and will have to be approved by the IAAO by written procedure.  The RRs are run by the STG but financed by the IAAO.  The STG also reviewed, by written procedure, investigations and corrective actions taken by Assay Offices, which exceeded permissible limits during the last RR


 

In brief…

·        The number of CCM articles increased in 2018.  A total of 5,829,242 articles were marked with the CCM in 2018, representing a 15.1% increase in comparison with 2017.  35.1% of these articles were marked offsite.

·        Two cases of Assaying and Marking Practice (AMP) were discussed by the SC: the first, from Poland, relates to the marking of multimetal articles and the second, from Switzerland, is a new alloy consisting of gold and silicone-based polymer.  Both cases were approved.

·        The Secretariat provided an update on the nomination process of the next SC Chairman and gave a presentation on the new Convention’s website.

Next meeting in Tel Aviv

The next SC meeting will take place in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 11 September 2019 (to be followed by the IAAO meeting on 12 September).

 


Dalia Yarom (SC Chairperson) and Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia)

SC Meeting in Riga

Geneva (13 September 2018): The 83rd SC meeting took place in Riga (Latvia) on 5 September 2018 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel). The meeting was opened by Ms. Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Minister of Finance of Latvia, and attended by 52 officials representing 18 out of 20 Contracting States (Slovak Republic and Sweden did not attend), 2 Applicant States (Italy and Serbia) as well as guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia and Spain.

Italy to join

The SC noted that no Contracting State had objected to Italy's accession and as a result, the Depositary would now officially invite Italy to join the Convention. The Chairperson expressed her satisfaction that Italy's accession had finally been agreed following years of negotiations.  Italy indicated that the ratification process should be swift.

The SC reviewed the accession process of Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine, where little or no progress has been made over the past 6 months. In Ukraine, the accession process, which started back in 2005, has come to a complete standstill. The SC invited the Chairperson to write to Ukraine and give them until the end of the year to ratify; if not, Ukraine would be invited to reapply. 

Technical Annexes on track; CCM figures up

The SC also noted that the implementation process of the revised Convention's Technical Annexes (and related Compilation of Technical Decisions) was progressing in all Contracting States. The revised Annexes should enter into force on 1 January 2019, assuming the process can be completed in time in all Contracting States. If one State faces a delay, it will have to inform the Depositary. The technical details regarding the new standardised Common Control Mark (CCM), introduced in the revised Annexes, are in the process of being finalised. The introduction of this new CCM should further boost the use of the CCM, whose number has increased by 22.9% in the first half of 2018. Discussions in relation with the reproduction of this new CCM have also triggered a discussion on introducing minimum rules regarding punch makers. The Standing Technical Group (STG) has been mandated to prepare a first draft.

Implementing the new Vision and Strategy for the Convention

Following the discussions in Stockholm on the future Vision and Strategy of the Convention, the SC has agreed on a prior consultation of Ministries, which will be launched before the end of the year. The SC also discussed the revision of its rules regarding the attendance of guests and on how to attract more Non-Members. In this context, the SC discussed the possibility of eliminating unnecessary duplications with the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO), which meets once per year after the SC meeting. A strategy paper will be prepared in time for the next meeting in order to look at all possible options. The SC also agreed in principle to establish a Working Group on drafting a "model law", which should facilitate the accession of new Contracting States, in particular those which have no or few regulations in place. The website of the Convention will also be upgraded in the near future; the website is an important tool to promote the Convention internationally.

Round Robin on Testing and Marking

The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), reported on its 23rd meeting held in Edinburgh (UK) on 18°June 2018, during which the outcome of the recent Round Robin (RR) on Testing (RR 42 on gold & RR 43 on silver) was discussed. The STG also reviewed investigations and corrective actions taken by Assay Offices, which exceeded permissible limits during last year's RR (RR 39 on gold, RR 40 on silver & RR 41 on platinum). It also decided on the composition of samples for next year's RR, which will be on gold (RR 44), silver (RR 45) and palladium (RR 46).  In Riga, metal plates were distributed to all Assay Offices for a RR on Marking, which will be on laser marking. The case regarding the possible marking of a multimetal article from Poland was also discussed.

Next meeting in Ljubljana

The SC bid farewell to two longstanding Members, who left the SC since the last meeting: Ms. Valentina Valestany (Sweden), former Chair of the Working Group on Vision and Strategy; and Ms. Isabel Morais (Portugal), former Member of the STG.

The next SC meeting will take place in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 14 March 2019.