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ANSI Co-sponsors APEC Conference on Business Engagement in Standards and Conformance

New York, Aug 10, 2009

As part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2009 meetings in Singapore, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) co-sponsored a conference on business engagement in cooperation with the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC). The meeting brought together over 100 business leaders and policy makers from all twenty-one APEC member economies.

“In order to continue to maximize contribution of standards and conformance to the growth of trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region, policy makers and business leaders must build strong partnerships and work together in a spirit of collaboration,” explained Steven Bipes, ANSI senior director, regional and bilateral policy.

“That is why the United States came together with Vietnam – in cooperation with Chile, Japan, Korea, and Singapore – to host the Conference on Business Engagement in Standards and Conformance in conjunction with the APEC SCSC meetings.”

The conference took place on August 3-4, 2009, and was organized by the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Vietnam Directorate for Standards and Quality with support from ANSI the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The gathering opened with a keynote address by Marty Beard, president of Sybase 365. Mr. Beard discussed his perspective on the telecommunications industry’s highly successful experience with collaboration on standards for text messaging, as well as the future of commerce via mobile technologies. He imparted that regulators, especially in the area of interoperability, should resist the urge to base their initiatives on particular technologies, and should instead allow standards to be developed in open and collaborative processes.

Following the keynote address, attendees discussed existing business activities of the SCSC. 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. [see related news item]

In a discussion on business engagement in technical regulations, Elizabeth Borrelli, executive director of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP), detailed the U.S. toy industry’s experience forming an industry-driven program in response to a global need for stronger conformity assessment requirements for toy safety. [see related article] With APEC member economies responsible for at least 85% of the world’s toy supply, Ms. Borrelli’s presentation addressed U.S. industry’s goals in working with APEC member nations to foster the development of harmonized standards and consistent testing requirements. The TSCP – developed by TIA in partnership with ANSI – was offered as a conformity assessment model for nations that are planning to develop conformity assessment schemes for toy safety.

Several speakers provided an international perspective on business engagement in standards and conformance. Ronald Collis, program manager of global standards and trade regulation for Rockwell Automation, provided a vibrant presentation on the challenges and opportunities that come with business involvement in standards and conformity assessment. His presentation gave a clear business perspective on providing customers with specific expectations of what hurdles may be encountered when entering the market in these areas, and how to make standardization activities valuable to business, particularly when those activities support the “one standard, one test, accepted everywhere” principle. He emphasized the time and cost to companies and consumers associated with products that require multiple and potentially redundant certifications.

Mr. Collis urged industry representatives to become involved in their respective national member bodies of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These national bodies form a network of 160 countries in all regions of the world, serving as a gateway for industry to participate in international standardization. Should industry leaders choose not to participate in standardization, Mr. Collis added, they will face requirements set by their competitors or government regulators.

“More than ever, the global business community is keenly aware of the key role of international standards and conformance procedures in the global marketplace,” continued Mr. Bipes. “We heard many perspectives during this conference on how active engagement in standards and conformance activities can help businesses to achieve more rapid trade flows, reduced costs, broader product acceptance, and greater integration of supply networks.”

Several conference recommendations were reached at the conclusion of the event, including:

  • Stronger regional coordination on specific trade concerns being raised in the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade Committee

  • Increased engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises

  • Better promotion of successful projects and initiatives such as toy safety to encourage greater business participation

A document outlining the full set of recommendations is currently being drafted; the final document, Strategy to Engage Business in SCSC Activities, will be available for the next SCSC meeting taking place in February 2010 in Japan. The United States and Vietnam suggested that SCSC member economies consider and prioritize these recommendations for future initiatives.

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