One major impediment to international trade is the development of so-called "home grown" market access requirements by individuals nations. These unique standards, regulations, testing and certification requirements can create a complex and sometimes contradictory web of requirements for companies doing business internationally, driving up the financial and time costs associated with exports and trade. However, international voluntary consensus standards can help to address these problems by giving countries a common base for such requirements. Major emerging economies like China and India, as well as smaller markets like Peru and Vietnam - are increasingly using international standards to help align their market access requirements with those of the world at large, reducing trade-based costs for companies doing business internationally.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system and a global leader in conformity assessment, has actively assisted in efforts to rejuvenate the U.S. economy by working to promoting standards as an important tool to facilitate international trade. Using its unique position in the world of standards and conformance, ANSI has brought together U.S. and international government agencies, standards developing organizations (SDOs), members of industry, and other key stakeholders in collaboration on a wide variety of events, activities, and initiatives that strengthen trade and the global economy as a whole.
In October, as part of the larger 2012 World Standards Week (WSW) series of events, ANSI held its annual Open Forum, which highlighted the benefits and challenges associated with the development of standards for the global market, as well as other issues related to international trade. In his keynote address to the forum, Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, praised ANSI for the effective way it has cooperated with both the U.S. government and the private sector to promote the standards- and conformance-based economic ecosystem that fosters innovation [see related story].
This fall, ANSI partnered with the ITA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to hold a briefing focusing on the implications of Russia's recent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to U.S. trade [see related story]. The event provided stakeholders with insight into Russia's non-tariff trade barriers and other market access obstacles, strengthening future prospects for U.S. exports in an attractive, newly open market. Separately, the ANSI Manufacturer Member Roundtable in China held a number of events in Beijing and Shanghai on pressing trade-related issues for U.S. and Chinese government bodies and members of industry, including discussions of China's Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and China Compulsory Certification (CCC) measures [see related story].
Other recent ANSI activities intended to foster trade include: the awarding of international accreditation certificates to two Georgian agricultural products testing laboratories by ACLASS, a move expected to bolster international trade [see related story]; the accreditation under the Institute's Accreditation Program for Personnel Certification Bodies of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) [see related story], an organization subsequently cited for its manufacturing skills credentialing program by the White House's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee [see related story]; new additions to ANSI's Standards Boost Business (SBB) promotional campaign, which helps U.S. businesses understand the power of standardization in driving business growth and advancing U.S. competitiveness; the operation of the StandardsPortal (www.standardsportal.org) website, which makes it easier for companies to gain access U.S., Chinese, South Korean, and Indian market access requirements; and the presentation of guest lectures by ANSI figures at a number of colleges and universities, including the Georgetown McDonough School of Business.
ANSI remains committed to its partnerships with government agencies, SDOs, and industry groups, and will continue to work to advance U.S. exports and more effective international trade through its involvement in the international standards and conformance systems.