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2009 COPANT General Assembly Meets in Dominican Republic

ANSI CEO S. Joe Bhatia named COPANT vice president

New York, May 15, 2009

The 2009 General Assembly of the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) met last week, bringing together representatives of standards communities from North, Central, and South America. The meeting was held May 10–14, 2009, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

COPANT Week Workshops

In conjunction with the COPANT Assembly, on Monday, May 11, the Forum of IEC National Committees of the Americas (FINCA) hosted a workshop to discuss two important and timely issues directly affecting the standards bodies of the Americas. USNC president James E. Matthews, III moderated a discussion on regional communication, training, and capacity building with presentations by Amaury Santos of the IEC Office in Brazil, Luis Hernandez of ANCE Mexico, Keith Rodel, President of the Canadian National Committee/IEC, and Maria del Rosario Uria Toro from INDECOPI Peru.

Mario Wittner of the Argentinean National Committee moderated the second session highlighting IEC conformity assessment schemes. Joan Sterling, director of government relations at Intertek, and Rafael Nava, vice president of the Mexican National Committee/IEC, led discussions on how COPANT members can advance their economies by participating in the assessment schemes.

During discussion, it was reported that Chile would likely become a full member of IEC by year’s end and Peru is taking full advantage of the IEC Associate Program.

On Tuesday, May 12, interested stakeholders—including over 150 from the Dominican Republic and its surrounding region—gathered for a workshop on technical standards, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Presentations by Mr. Regis, Mr. Steele, Mr. Olshefsky, Gene Eckhart of NEMA and chair of the ANSI Regional Standing Committee for the Americas (RSC-A), and others addressed the use of standards and conformity assessment to improve energy efficiency.

The annual Assembly provides a forum to advance standardization activities in the Americas, and offers opportunities for U.S. interests to share information and network with standards and conformance bodies from the region.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) led a twenty-person U.S. delegation, with representatives from companies, standards and code developers, and the U.S. government, including the Department of Commerce (DOC) Standards Attachés for the Americas.

S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO, was elected to serve as COPANT vice president for a two-year term. His appointment was announced as one of several changes in COPANT leadership for 2009. Additionally, COPANT executive secretary Manuel Díaz Portocarrero announced his retirement after 20 years of service.

A number of prominent figures in the international standards community gave presentations on issues of importance to the Assembly. Rob Steele, secretary-general of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Jacque Regis, president of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), provided updates on their organizations’ relationships with COPANT membership. Representatives of the ANSI Federation also spoke, including Sylvana Ricciarini of the International Code Council (ICC), who addressed Engineering Guidelines on the Impact of Climate Change on Design Wind Speeds in Saint Lucia; Jim Olshefsky of ASTM International, who discussed Copper and Non-ferrous Metal; Ileana Martínez of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who gave a Report of the March 2009 Biofuels Conference in Brussels; and Jennifer Stradtman of the U.S. DOC International Trade Administration (ITA), who spoke on Toy Safety Initiatives in Asia Pacific.

“As always, the COPANT Assembly offers a unique opportunity for U.S. stakeholders to collaborate with some of the key players in the standards community for the Americas,” said Mr. Bhatia. “I’m honored to assume a leadership role as vice president of the Commission, and I look forward to working closely with the officers, board and membership to reinvigorate COPANT’s impact in the region in support of international standardization.”

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