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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Reiterates Support for Voluntary Consensus Standards

New York, Apr 07, 2008

In response to a call for comments on the joint U.S.-EU report on the impact of regulations upon international trade and investment, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out in a show of support for private sector standards as the best way to achieve cross-border compatibility.

Developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the Secretariat General of the European Commission, the report – entitled Review of the Application of EU and US Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines on the Analysis of Impacts on International Trade and Investment – was released for public review and comment on December 10, 2007. [see related article]

The Chamber submitted its comments on the twenty-five page report on February 8, 2008.

In a letter dated March 21, 2008, the Chamber reiterated the need to reduce the divergence of U.S. and EU regulations, suggesting that the final report should underscore the importance of voluntary consensus standards in facilitating increased market access and ensuring a level playing field for both companies and regulators.

Citing OMB Circular A-119 and the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (Public Law 104-113), the Chamber explained how these two policies not only work to improve regulatory efficiency and reduce government procurement costs, but also facilitate the alignment of regulatory criteria across borders.

“With OMB Circular A-119, the Office of Management and Budget recognized early on the advantages of using voluntary consensus standards from the private sector over agency-developed specifications,” said William Kovacs, vice president for the Chamber’s Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division. “Now, OMB needs to emphasize the advantages of referencing voluntary consensus standards in rules on the global market.”

“Due to both of these policies [OMB Circular A-119 and the NTTAA], over 6,000 private sector standards are now referenced in U.S. regulations,” continued Stan Anderson, senior counsel to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “This exemplary and legally required practice should be highlighted not only as a reminder to U.S. regulators, but advocated by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in its conversations with the European Union and other governments that represent key U.S. trading partners and commercial interests.”

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