"Standardization matters will play a very significant role in ongoing TTIP discussions, and are expected to have a major impact on the long-term effects of the EU-U.S. trade relationship," said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. "We are proud to build on more than twenty years of productive dialogue with our partners in the European Union in support of what Ambassador Froman called ‘the world's largest economic relationship.'"
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman spoke in Brussels on September 30, 2013, stressing that TTIP remains a major economic priority for the United States.
"The greatest opportunity - and the greatest challenge - of TTIP is in the area of regulation and standards," said Ambassador Froman. "When we talk about regulation and standards, we are talking about how to bridge the divergences between two well-regulated markets, not about launching a broad deregulatory agenda. We are focused on reducing unnecessary costs that damage our collective competitiveness in an increasingly competitive global economy."
"TTIP should be an opportunity to set a high standard for global standard-setting, to unleash our collective creativity and encourage good practices around the world," said Ambassador Froman.
When it comes to international standardization, good practices are measured against the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement Committee Decision1, which states that the global relevance of a standard is determined by how it was developed, not where. More specifically, the Decision states that the development of international standards must rely upon a number of principles, including openness, impartiality, consensus, transparency, and coherence, among others.
In other words, the global relevance of a standard cannot and should not be measured by which organization developed it. The degree to which a standard is used in the global marketplace is, in ANSI's view, the best measure of an international standard.
In a recent letter to European Commission leadership, CEN and CENELEC director general Elena Santiago described the centralized European standardization marketplace, and underscored their adoption of international standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
ANSI joins Ms. Santiago in expressing full appreciation and respect for the differences between the European and U.S. standardization systems. As the U.S. member body to ISO and - via its U.S. National Committee - to the IEC, ANSI strongly supports ISO and IEC standards wherever they meet the needs of stakeholders, industry sectors, and regulators. But the U.S. standardization system is fundamentally built on the needs of the marketplace, where users decide which standards best meet their needs, and in which standards development venues they wish to work. Ultimately, ANSI supports the fact that there are multiple paths to global relevance - as articulated by the WTO TBT Agreement Committee Decision - and that it is the marketplace that decides the utility or applicability of any given standard.
In February 2013 in Dublin, ANSI, CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI began the process of formulating an agreement that would help move these issues forward. This dialogue is meant to increase mutual understanding, facilitate trade, identify specific areas where U.S. and EU standards could be better aligned, and develop consistent messaging for public and private stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic.
"The debate over the definition of an international standard is nothing new," said Mr. Bhatia. "We look forward to continuing this critical and cooperative dialogue with our colleagues at the European Standards Organizations, and to doing everything possible to support an optimal TTIP agreement."