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WTO TBT Committee Convenes Workshop on International Standards and Economic Development

ANSI VP Gary Kushnier spoke on the work of APEC Specialist Regional Bodies

New York, Apr 13, 2009

The recent workshop of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) brought together stakeholders from across the globe to discuss the role of international standards in economic development. Over 200 delegates from 70 countries gathered for the event, which was held in Geneva on March 16-17, 2009.

The workshop was divided into four sessions: the economics of standardization; case studies on the use of international standards; building capacity; and identification of key challenges.

Gary Kushnier, vice president of international policy for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), spoke at the session on building capacity. Speaking on behalf of the five Specialist Regional Bodies (SRBs) of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Kushnier discussed APEC’s technical infrastructure development in the area of standards and conformance. The SRBs’ objective, he said, is an infrastructure that simultaneously addresses APEC goals and meets the needs of their member economies. For more information on the SRBs, see the ANSI Background Paper on APEC and Asia Pacific Standards and Conformance.

Kushnier introduced the SRBs’ joint document, A Strategic Plan for Technical Infrastructure Development in Support of Trade Facilitation for and in APEC Economies. The document has been endorsed by the APEC Subcommittee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) as the primary framework guiding technical assistance and capacity building in the Asia Pacific region for standards and conformance, as well as by the APEC Business Advisory Council.

The importance of using international standards – standards developed in compliance with the WTO-TBT criteria and chosen independent of their source – as a foundational underpinning to facilitate trade was highlighted in Kushnier’s remarks.

“The five Specialist Regional Bodies in the Asia-Pacific region are working together to build capacity within the region, develop and maintain metrology systems, encourage industry experts to participate in international standards development in areas of economic interest, and train accreditors of certification bodies,” said Mr. Kushnier. “These are all elements toward reducing a variety of technical barriers in standards and conformance in support of the WTO objectives of facilitated global trade.”

The next meeting of the WTO TBT Committee will take place June 25-26, 2009.

For more information on the workshop, including presentations and a summary report, see the WTO news item. To read a copy of Kushnier’s remarks, click here.

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