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ANSI Board Welcomes Department of Commerce’s Nicole Lamb-Hale

New York, Dec 09, 2010

“U.S. companies and workers are among the most innovative and competitive in the world. They can provide the technology, services, and knowledge – and standards – to lead the economic recovery.”

So said Nicole Lamb-Hale, assistant secretary for manufacturing and services at the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), International Trade Administration (ITA) — and guest speaker at the December 2 meeting of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Board of Directors in Washington, DC. Ms. Lamb-Hale spoke about ITA efforts to create U.S. job growth through expansion of exports, and highlighted how ANSI and its members could help to strengthen the competitive position of U.S. industry abroad.

“Expanding international trade and opening markets for U.S. firms is one of our best options for redirecting the American economy, and it is one of the key missions of the International Trade Administration,” said Ms. Lamb-Hale. “Standards are the technical underpinning of many products and services and ensure interoperability, which then leads to increased export opportunities for our companies.”

Standards and the NEI

NEI Pillar 3 - Removing Barriers to Trade
Citing a big win for U.S. government and industry, Ms. Lamb-Hale referred to how ITA and ANSI successfully discouraged the duplication of financial services standards in the international arena. She also cited the work of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Toy Safety Initiative, a group formed to improve the alignment of international toy safety standards and conformity assessment practices while reducing technical barriers to trade.

NEI Pillar 4 - Enforcing Existing Agreements
In helping to ensure a level playing field for U.S. exporters, Ms. Lamb-Hale underscored the importance of enforcing existing free trade agreements. Standards-related trade barriers are the most prevalent non-tariff barriers identified. In 2010, the Commerce Department’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program successfully addressed 50 different barriers to trade affecting U.S. businesses in 33 different markets.

To date, U.S. growth has largely been domestic-based. The 2009 U.S. export-to-GDP ratio in current prices was 11.2 percent, while Japan’s was 12.5 percent, Canada’s was 28.7 percent, and Germany’s was 40.6 percent. According to Ms. Lamb-Hale, the upward growth of trade in an expanding global market holds many opportunities for U.S. businesses.

“A new global middle class is emerging and creating new global markets for our goods and services,” said Ms. Lamb-Hale. “By implication, U.S. companies will have greater prospects for success by seeking export opportunities. Exporting is good for American business, good for American workers, and good for American jobs.”

Under his National Export Initiative (NEI), President Barack Obama set the goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years, an increase that will support two million American jobs. To attain this goal, exports will need to grow from $1.57 trillion in 2009 to $3.14 trillion by 2015.

To meet this objective, President Obama has established five pillars for the NEI: 1) improving advocacy and trade promotion; 2) increasing access to export financing; 3) removing barriers to trade; 4) enforcing trade rules; and 5) promoting strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. Standards, which play a critical role in these efforts, carry particular relevance for the third and fourth pillars (see sidebar).

Public-private partnerships, Ms. Lamb-Hale urged, are key to the success of the NEI and related initiatives such as ITA’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP). The program, which aims to expand foreign markets for U.S. goods and services, provides financial and technical assistance to projects that enhance U.S. competitiveness globally. On average, projects generate $124 in exports for every $1 of MDCP awards made. Since the MDCP program began in 1993, ITA's investment has yielded more than $2.9 billion in increased exports.

A number of MDCP awards have been granted to standards developing organizations within the ANSI federation. One such award helped the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Petroleum Institute (API), ASTM International, and CSA America open a joint office in China. A current award granted to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) aims to ensure national treatment for U.S. exports and secure the acceptance of relevant standards across ten countries in Central and South America. Another helps NEMA work with Canada and Mexico to ensure interoperability of their electrical systems and Smart Grid operations by conducting standards harmonization efforts.

Ms. Lamb-Hale also highlighted some of DOC’s recent efforts to raise the visibility of the U.S. standardization system within the U.S. government and abroad, including the 2003 launch of the DOC Standards Initiative; the creation of a standards attaché position in Beijing; and initiatives to support key sectors in which standards plays a critical role, from Smart Grid to health IT to cybersecurity.

“Thanks to the investments made by the stimulus bill and other policy initiatives, U.S. companies are now better positioned than ever to supply global markets with world-class technology and expertise,” said Ms. Lamb-Hale. “We recognize the critical role standards play in this dynamic.”

“On behalf of the ANSI Board of Directors, I would like to express my appreciation to Ms. Lamb-Hale for joining us at this year-end meeting,” said Art Cote, chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors. “Her remarks provided great insight and truly underscored the importance of the standardization community’s many efforts to meet the needs of our nation. We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with the Department of Commerce and its International Trade Administration.”

ANSI Focus on Services Standards