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2009 APEC Meeting in Singapore Brings Together Business and Policy Leaders

New York, Aug 07, 2009

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2009 meeting gathered for a week of meetings, panels, and presentations last week in Singapore, bringing together business leaders and policy makers from all twenty-one APEC member economies.

The theme for Singapore’s chairmanship of the summit was “Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region,” reflecting the continuing efforts of APEC to facilitate trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. In today’s challenging global economic environment, these efforts have become even more important for the success of international business.

Multiple gatherings of the Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) were highlights of the summit, including:

  • Food Safety Cooperation Forum Meeting
  • Chemical Dialogue
  • Managing Risk Across the Supply Chain in the APEC Region
  • Hot Topics in Food Safety
  • Toy Safety Initiative Workshop
  • Business Engagement Conference [see related article]

Critical Infrastructure Standards

During the SCSC Business Engagement Conference, Karen Batt, manager of international development for Standards Australia, informed attendees on the latest details of a recent project initiated by the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) that addresses critical infrastructure standards. Originally launched as a pilot in response to an APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) request at the 2007 PASC meeting in Colombia, the project addressed several goals:

  • Identify issues, barriers, and solutions related to protecting critical infrastructure and identify user perceptions of the importance of standards related to securing critical infrastructure.

  • Identify and prioritize the standards required by the owners and operators of critical infrastructure and identify the gaps between existing standards and the needs of the owners and operators of critical infrastructure.

  • Make recommendations on how the gaps in standards may be addressed and develop a blueprint for the development of a security standards framework

All APEC member countries participated in the project, and 18, including the U.S., have been actively engaged with the initiative over the past several years.

Successful PASC completion of this project in response to the ABAC request serves a flagship example of how the standardization community can respond to high-level business priorities.

A final report with key findings and recommendations is now available on the APEC website.

As the U.S. member body to APEC Specialist Regional Bodies – the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) and the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) – the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has posted public documents from the SCSC meetings to its online library here.

The APEC Toy Safety Initiative Workshop, held on August 1, 2009, featured a keynote address from Chairman Inez Tenenbaum of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. During her remarks, Ms. Tenenbaum expressed her strong support for voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment solutions that are developed with a private-sector lead.

“The U.S. experience with safety standards has been that you get a great deal of product safety by relying on voluntary consensus standards coupled with regulatory authority to intervene quickly,” she explained. “In fact, my agency’s statutes set a preference for voluntary standards over mandatory regulations. Experience has shown that a toy made to strict performance specification based on mandatory or voluntary standards – and independently tested to ensure conformance, is more likely to be safe and of high quality.”

To read Charman Tenenbaum’s complete keynote address, click here.

Among a number of other meetings held at the summit, ANSI representatives met with Teng Then Dar, chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) 2009 and CEO of the Singapore Business Federation. Both parties agreed that APEC cooperation in standards and conformance is critical to reducing trade obstacles in the region, which will facilitate the success of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Representatives of ANSI and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held several joint meetings with regional bodies to address business concerns related to standards and conformance. These included discussions with SPRING Singapore, the National Standardization Agency of Indonesia (BSN), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As a result of these meetings, ANSI and its partners are discussing means to further increase transparency, encourage the use of international standards, and minimize duplicative testing and certification requirements in the APEC region.

ANSI also participated in the 15th NIST-METI-ANSI Dialog with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Among other topics, representatives discussed improving the APEC Voluntary Action Plan (VAP), an APEC initiative aimed at measuring APEC use of international standards. One measure is to facilitate data collection from APEC area mirror committees to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) with a view to better leveraging ISO/IEC data on standards used in APEC economies. Other measures include organizing the data collected by the International Classification for Standards (ICS) code as well as making the data collected publically available.

For more information on the 2009 APEC Summit, visit the APEC website.

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