ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Global Relevance in "Business, Standards and Trade" Dominates Dialogue at ANSI Annual Conference

New York, Oct 17, 2002

A diverse assembly of standards experts and professionals joined leaders of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Federation during the 2002 ANSI Annual Conference, Breaking Down Borders: Business, Standards and Trade, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 15-16, 2002 in conjunction with World Standards Week celebrations in Washington, DC.

The ANSI Annual Conference was a two-day, intensive exploration of key issues affecting global commerce and trade within the context of standards and conformity assessment activities that attracted an international audience of more than 150 members of the standards and conformity assessment community.

Dr. Mark W. Hurwitz, CAE, ANSI's president and CEO, greeted conference attendees on Tuesday morning and voiced his enthusiasm, stating that the conference was "intended to help you, as leaders of industry and government, to understand the critical role we each play in promoting the development and promulgation of globally relevant standards for all industry sectors." He stressed that "international issues...have far-reaching implications for today's decision makers" and the conference would explore "the complex roles that each sector plays in facilitating global trade and harmonizing international standards, regulations and positions."

The program commenced with a keynote presentation by William H. Lash III, Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance at the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), who articulated these common themes of global relevance and harmonization. Lash illuminated his department's priorities and approach in protecting and promoting American interests in global trade. Lash declared that while "standards are tools, not weapons," it is "important to have an aggressive dialogue" in international standards activities, while utilizing the common language of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT). Lash also urged the members of the standards community to proactively communicate with the Market Access and Compliance office in order to address problems or potential impediments, underscoring his belief that "no market is too small, no product is insignificant, and no trading partner is off limits."

The keynote address was immediately followed by Panel I, "Competing on the Global Stage: Knowledge is Power," which comprised formal presentations from five distinguished representatives from around the globe to discuss how their respective organizations tackle a broad range of complex global standards and conformity assessment issues. Panel I was moderated by George Arnold, a vice chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors and a consultant for standards and intellectual property at Lucent Technologies.

The first speaker, A.J. Flood, president of A.J. Flood and Associates and the president of the Canadian National Committee (CNC) of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), reported on a CNC Global Relevance Task Force that had developed an implementation plan to address the development of IEC and other international standards, taking into consideration key issues of technical infrastructure, climatic conditions and international regulations. According to Flood, "if it is an international standard, it recognizes the essential requirements of all regions...the challenge is defining what is essential." Flood also predicted that in the future, more standards will be adopted in IEC with fewer variations, and that the marketplace will recognize these as true international standards.

Standardization acts as a key competition factor in the automobile industry, according to Veit Ghiladi, chief standards officer at Daimler-Chrysler in Germany and the second speaker on the panel. Because Daimler-Chrysler has headquarters in America and Germany and encompasses a global product range total of 11 brands, Ghiladi illustrated that vehicles are no longer seen as merely the singular products of a particular national corporation. Instead, they represent a vast range of technologies and materials with implications in the global standardization process. In fact, Ghiladi attests that "national standards are of no relevance in our view, and simply represent barriers to trade." Ghiladi asserted that the goal of "one standard, one test, accepted everywhere" would allow Daimler-Chrysler to "offer its products globally without having to pass through country-specific modifications and certification procedures in a host of different countries... International standards provide the assurance that the number of tests can be reduced to a minimum."

"Global standards used locally worldwide" is the vision statement of ISO Technical Committee 67, the ISO committee for materials and equipment for the petroleum and natural gas industries. According to Neil Reeve, standards manager at Shell Global Solution International and the panel's third speaker, this vision statement "is one that fits very well with the Shell needs for the efficiency of standardization." Reeve's discussion delved into the standardization process at Shell and within other areas of the petroleum industry. He noted that for various historical reasons, Shell technical standards have operated in two separate worlds: Shell companies in the US and Shell companies in the rest of the world, resulting in at times unfavorable divergence. "The current move towards one global standard (ISO) for the main (engineered) equipment that we use is facilitating a coming together of these two systems; a good and efficient change," concluded Reeve.

The challenges of standards that differ from nation to nation also have profound implications for global corporate giants in the electronics industry, as illustrated by the panel's final speaker. Setsuo Harada, senior manager of the technical relations office, corporate technology department of Sony Corporation, emphasized that "active involvement in national bodies, such as ANSI, and international bodies such as the IEC," allow Sony to seek a "middle ground" in its standardization activities. Though it can prove to be one of the more difficult challenges for global companies that participate in standardization, Harada maintained that Sony is able to work on standards projects with teams worldwide by coordinating internally. He noted that Sony has a vision for connectivity between products that is very standards-intensive; dubbed the "ubiquitous value network," it is the focus of much of their standards participation.

Day One also included a series of five concurrent breakout sessions designed to appeal to all sectors of the ANSI Federation, covering themes including conformity assessment, government/industry partnerships, standards integration into business, cross-border personnel certification and outreach to academia. The sessions gave conference participants the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with leading international experts in a variety of areas.

Story continued: Day Two

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