On behalf of the U.S. standardization community, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) testified on June 28, 2017, at a hearing concerning the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
Over 130 individuals representing companies, organizations, trade associations, and other groups - including many ANSI members and accredited standards developers - testified over the course of the three-day hearing.
Mary Saunders, ANSI's vice president, government relations and public policy, testified on ANSI's role in the U.S. standardization system and why it is fundamentally built on the needs of the marketplace. She spoke to ANSI's role in facilitating U.S. companies' competitiveness and their access to foreign markets. She also addressed issues related to technical barriers to trade, and the role of market-driven standardization activities in enhancing trade and competitiveness.
The hearing was the latest step in an ongoing effort by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to seek public input on the modernization of NAFTA. On May 23, USTR issued a Federal Register notice seeking public input. ANSI published an article seeking comments from its members and stakeholders for inclusion in ANSI's consensus response to USTR, and the final ANSI comments on NAFTA were submitted on June 8.
As stated in ANSI's official response, the Institute supports the "multiple-path approach" the view that the degree to which a standard is used in the global marketplace is the best measure of an international standard. This supports the approach in which users decide which standards best meet their needs, and determine with which standards development venues they wish to work. ANSI and the standardization community emphasize that the multiple-path approach is more effective than when regulators mandate the use of a standard developed by a particular bodyinstead of selecting the best standard.
ANSI's response also emphasizes that a modernized NAFTA should include TBT provisions that are "at least as strong" as those contained in more recent Free Trade Agreements negotiated by the United States.
ANSI supports modernizing NAFTA by addressing outdated standardization policiesand action that will ensure greater flexibility and choice in standards and conformity assessment solutions. And to that end, ANSI strongly recommends negotiators look to the agreed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for appropriate language, specifically Chapter 8 on Technical Barriers to Trade.
Read ANSI's Response to Request for Comments: Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
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