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Convergence and Cooperation Highlight COPANT Assembly Meeting in Costa Rica

New York, May 17, 2005

A delegation of the American National Standards Institute attended the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) Assembly meeting hosted by the Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica (INTECO) May 9-11, 2005, in San Jose, Costa Rica. As a part of continuing outreach efforts coordinating with other related regional organizations, this year’s COPANT meetings were held concurrently with meetings of the Inter American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) in the same venue. A joint COPANT-IAAC seminar titled “Standardization, Certification, and Accreditation in the Region as Tools for Competitiveness” was held Tuesday, May 10 and a joint COPANT-IAAC Board of Directors meeting was held Friday, May 13.

Attendance at the week’s events was significant due to the centralized venue location, the overlapping interest in standards and conformity assessment issues, and by the attendance and participation of Alan Bryden, secretary general of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Frank Kitzantides, vice president of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), who both spoke during the week’s events. There was also increased participation by and requests for information from representatives of the standards bodies of the DR-CAFTA countries (Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua). Many of these representatives sought information on the functioning of the U.S. standards system and the opening of national standards body technical committees to increased international participation, per provisions of the DR-CAFTA agreement.

In a step toward increased sub-regional cooperation within the Americas, all of this year’s COPANT documents were provided bilingually in both Spanish and English, facilitating communication with, and participation by, all of COPANT’s members. Also for the first time, the position of COPANT vice president was assigned the responsibility of implementation and progress tracking of the new COPANT strategic plan. The overall supervision of this role will be conducted by the COPANT president in coordination with the work of the other COPANT officers.

In its ongoing global coordination efforts, the ANSI delegation included two members of the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) from the U.S. embassy in San Jose. Following the meetings, the embassy staff also conducted standards training via the Internet with other USFCS officers of the Central American region and participated in the meeting of the local American Chamber of Commerce, discussing issues relating to CAFTA and standardization in the region.

Fulfilling its role an umbrella forum to further dialogue in the coordination and harmonization of sub-regional standardization areas, the COPANT Assembly and Board agreed to coordinate a meeting between representatives of organizations in the electrotechnical sector from sub-regions of the Americas.

The COPANT Assembly also requested the IEC to reassess its dues structure to accommodate financial barriers that prevent many developing countries from becoming full IEC members.

Considering that the official languages of ISO and IEC have not been revised for many years, COPANT requested that ISO and IEC consider the importance of the Spanish language and that Spanish be included as an official language of both the ISO and IEC.

The COPANT Assembly meeting marked the end of INTECO executive director Carlos Rodríguez’s 2003-2005 term as COPANT president; Carlos Santos Amorim of the Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT) began his 2005-2007 term following the close of the Assembly at the May 12 meeting of the COPANT Board of Directors.

The next COPANT Assembly will be held in La Paz, Bolivia, April 24-28, 2006. For more information, please contact Steven Bipes, program manager, ASNI Regional & Bilateral Programs (; 202-331-3607).

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