ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Central Asian Nations Open Doors to the West

ANSI Consultant Visits Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to Scout Potential Standards System Reforms

New York, Apr 18, 2002

On a month-long assignment to Central Asia to review possible reform measures to the standards systems of two nations in the region, ANSI consultant and former director of public policy and government affairs, Jane Schweiker, observed many opportunities for the U.S. to assist in guiding these countries toward entering the world economy and using American National Standards and U.S. technology. This assignment was part of a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and administered by the PRAGMA Corporation.

Ms. Schweiker was invited to participate as a presenter in a series of six seminars on quality and standards in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, two former Soviet-bloc countries in Central Asia that became independent nations in the early 1990's. During her visit, she met with standardization officials to review their laws and systems and make recommendations for compliance measures with international processes. She also met with representatives of private industry who are eager to make their standards systems responsive to private sector needs.

The seminars and meetings provided extensive opportunities to describe in detail how the U.S. standards system works, and to explain the practical advantages of relying upon voluntary consensus standards. "Everyone, whether in government or the private sector, was thirsty for information on how our system works," Ms. Schweiker noted. "This was a great opportunity to bring our message to emerging economies and to establish new alliances."

Standards officials were particularly interested in making their systems compliant with World Trade Organization requirements as well as with the practices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC); ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO and, through the U.S. National Committee, the IEC.

"While there was some resistance to change," explained Ms. Schweiker, "overall, the leaders of Kazakhstan's and Kyrgyzstan's standardization activities expressed a willingness to take the necessary steps toward entering the world economy. Within both countries there is great interest in the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system and in being able to use American National Standards (ANS), particularly in the areas of food, energy and road construction equipment."

Ms. Schweiker will discuss her visit to Central Asia at the ANSI Caucus Meeting on May 3, 2002 in Washington, DC. This ANSI members-only meeting requires advance registration; interested parties should contact Leslie Surgento, ANSI administrative assistant, at (t) 202.331.3616 or (e)

This outreach initiative was undertaken by ANSI as part of its efforts to implement the U.S. National Standards Strategy, which calls for the U.S. to provide an outreach program to show those outside the nation the value of American technology, standards and processes. The Institute's Regional Standing Committee on Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be considering possible follow up activities.

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