Joseph Tretler Jr., ANSI senior director for international technical programs and services, facilitated the signing of the agreement between S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO, and Hermogene Nsengimana, Ph.D., ARSO secretary general. Dr. Nsengimana provided members of the technical committee with an overview of ARSO and detailed its support for the activities of ISO TC 285.
ARSO is an intergovernmental organization established by the African Union in 1977. Its mission is to facilitate intra-African and global trade by providing harmonized standards and facilitating their implementation. ARSO's membership currently consists of 35 African national standards bodies or departments dealing with standards and quality. ARSO works with its members on a number of initiatives to facilitate standards development, establish conformity assessment schemes, increase private sector engagement, and exchange relevant information.
ANSI has recently increased its activity in Africa. Through the Standards Alliance program, ANSI has initiated engagement with several African markets, including the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Middle East/North Africa [see related news item]. The Standards Alliance is a public-private partnership between ANSI and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) designed to provide capacity-building assistance in developing countries, specifically related to implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.
In addition, ANSI has twinned with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to run the secretariat for ISO TC 285. This cooperation builds on ANSI's work to facilitate, on behalf of workshop sponsors the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, the negotiation of an ISO International Workshop Agreement, Guidelines for evaluating cookstove performance, which was published in 2012 [see related news item].
"Africa is an important region of the world for ANSI to be engaged," said Mr. Bhatia. "Trade relations between the United States and Africa are growing and standards and conformity assessment make up an important part of that relationship. An MOU between ANSI and ARSO provides an excellent platform for increasing our cooperation with the region."