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U.S. Delegates Offer Support to Arab Nations

ANSI President and Senior Staff Member Meet with Representatives of 16 Middle-Eastern Countries; Talks Focus on Forging Closer Working Relationships

New York, Mar 14, 2002

A show of support to develop stronger ties with industry representatives from sixteen nations in the Arab world was delivered by the two U.S. delegates invited to attend a series of meetings in Rabat, Morocco on March 1-2, 2002. The U.S. delegation was composed of two members of ANSI's senior staff, including the Institute's president and chief executive officer, Dr. Mark Hurwitz, CAE.

Dr. Talaat Al Dafer, the leader of the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO), invited Dr. Hurwitz to attend the Rabat conference. "The purpose of our visit," commented Hurwitz, "was to establish closer working relationships with members of the Middle-eastern standards and conformity assessment community and open the door to a possible cooperative agreement between ANSI and AIDMO. This would enhance trade relations between the U.S. and Arab nations as well as help to bring Arab interests to the table at the international level. Considering this very sensitive time in our nation's history, our hosts were very pleased that we accepted their invitation and, throughout our stay, displayed the generous hospitality for which Morocco is famous."

Also participating in the meetings were five non-Arab delegates from the national standards bodies of Germany, France, Japan and Great Britain. Delegates from the Arab world included representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Presentations from the non-Arab delegates were focused on familiarizing the Arab nations with the scope and function of their organizations and to describe the level of support already underway between their countries in support of standards and conformity assessment programs in the Arab world. Of the five non-Arab delegates, four are members of the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) Council, the executive branch of this non-governmental, worldwide federation of national standards bodies, including Dr. Hurwitz, Dr. Torsten Bahke (Germany), Alan Bryden (France) and Dr. David Lazenby (United Kingdom). Lazenby, director of standards for the British Standards Institution (BSI), indicated that his group was working with four Middle-eastern nations on certification, standards and training programs.

AIDMO was created in 1992 with the objective of promoting Arab economic development through a number of initiatives including the establishment of unified standards in order to facilitate trade among Arab countries and promote technical, technological and industrial cooperation among Arab states as well as with countries in other regions. AIDMO has introduced the idea of creating an accreditation body to provide conformity assessment services for the region, which would be an important component in achieving the organization's goals; the U.S. indicated its willingness to support the creation of such an organization by offering guidance and training.

During his presentation, Dr. Hurwitz described the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system and offered to provide technical assistance to the Arab nations present at the conference. Also representing the U.S. was Bob Feghali, ANSI vice-president of business development and chief information officer, who reported that AIDMO is the only organization in the Arab world that has expressed interest in harmonizing national standards and conformity assessment activities with those of the West. He noted that in addition to the proposed establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ANSI and AIDMO, Dr. Al Dafer indicated interest in establishing MOU's with ISO as well as with the five non-Arab organizations represented at the meetings. (AIDMO is already a corresponding member of ISO.)

Feghali indicated that the U.S. achieved its goal in strengthening ties between industry groups in the Arab world. In fact, members of the Saudi Arabian Standards Organization invited ANSI to meeting later this year in Riyadh, which will include another visit to AIDMO in Morocco. In addition, ANSI invited Dr. Al Dafer to participate in the Institute's upcoming 2002 Annual Conference, "Breaking Down Borders: Business, Standards and Trade," which will be held in October during World Standards Week in Washington, DC.

"In addition to discussing technical matters," said Hurwitz, "our presence at the Rabat conference was also a cultural exchange. Our role as ambassadors is a critical yet undervalued facet of our work that we believe promotes mutual understanding, respect and world peace."

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