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ANSI President Testifies before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Role of Voluntary Consensus Standards in Promoting Competition and Economic Growth


New York, Mar 02, 2012

“Standards and conformity assessment activities are inseparably linked to all facets of our national economy and are vital to the continued global competitiveness of our national economy. They influence an estimated 80% of global merchandise trade – or about $13 trillion.”

So said American National Standards Institute president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia in his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at the February 29 Congressional hearing, Promoting Innovation, Competition, and Economic Growth: Principles for Effective Domestic and International Standards Development.

Hosted by the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, the hearing examined principles of effective domestic and international standards development processes. Mr. Bhatia was one of five witnesses giving testimony on how to better promote these principles internationally.

“Standards play a critical role in both the domestic and international economies,” said Subcommittee chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) in his opening remarks. “Along with providing market certainty to producers and consumers, the process by which standards are developed is also crucial to competitiveness and innovation.”

A market-driven, voluntary consensus approach to standards development has proven effective, Mr. Quayle stated, because it allows the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in the standards development process, and ensures that final standards have broad market relevance.

“We have heard time and again, first-hand from business leaders of companies of all sizes, that participation in standards development gives them the opportunity to shape the specifications that drive their products’ acceptance, capitalize on the efficiency and cost-savings measures that collaborative ingenuity provides, and influence the international requirements that allow certain products to cross borders and take advantage of the global market,” Mr. Bhatia continued.

The Subcommittee also heard testimony from Mary Saunders, director of the standards coordination office at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who urged that “U.S. competitiveness in technology requires leadership by U.S. industry in standards and standardization.”

Philip Wennblom, director of standards at Intel Corporation, stressed that the effective enforcement of trade agreements such as the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade is key in preventing standards from being used as barriers to trade. On the subject of overcoming technical barriers to trade and expanding markets, Mr. Bhatia stressed that one of ANSI’s key roles is to provide the information, access, and guidance that U.S. industry needs to succeed in the global market.

As one such example, Mr. Bhatia pointed to the StandardsPortal (www.standardsportal.org) – a free online resource developed by ANSI in partnership with NIST – to help U.S. businesses of all sizes compete effectively in emerging markets such as China, India, and Korea.

“Standards and conformance can be a strategic tool to help fuel U.S. innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth,” he explained. “ANSI is always ready to coordinate the public-private partnership and take the next steps needed to further strengthen our national economy.”

A full webcast and photos of the testimony are available here.

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