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U.S. First Stop on ISO Secretary General Travel Schedule

Meetings with ANSI Leadership Seen as Successful

Washington, DC, Mar 26, 2003

Alan Bryden, Secretary General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), concluded a two-day visit to the United States today. This was his first official trip to an ISO national body since the newly elected ISO leader assumed office on March 1, 2003. He previously served as chief executive officer of AFNOR, the national standards body of France.

Dr. George Arnold, chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors, and Dr. Mark Hurwitz, ANSI president and CEO, welcomed the Secretary General to the Institute’s Washington, DC headquarters on March 24. Mr. Bryden met with Board officers and leaders of the Institute’s international governance committees, as well as members of ANSI’s management team involved in international standards programs. The discussions focused on the challenges facing ISO today, as well as the general environment of international standardization.

Forces impacting ISO today include the emergence of new world markets, developing countries and economies in transition, trust crisis and political tensions, and an economic slow-down in some regions, explained Mr. Bryden. He also noted the quest for sustainable development, new technologies and a more competitive environment for standardization. As a result, “ISO’s strategic vision needs to be updated to respond to the new world environment and stakeholders’ expectations,” he said.

The Secretary General identified and discussed five opportunities he would like ISO to seize:

  • Promotion of international standardization to respond to globalization of trade and societal issues
  • Responsiveness to needs in the area of services; environment; IT and new technologies; and health, safety and security
  • A proactive and inclusive approach to respond to and support global international initiatives and developments
  • Enhanced use of IT tools to improve process and participation
  • Consolidation of leadership in the international standardization system

Mr. Bryden also discussed Conformity assessment in ISO, centered on the Conformity Assessment Committee (ISO/CASCO), its relationships with other international and regional organizations, and whether the current organizational structure is satisfactory to the users of its standards and guides.

An evening reception afforded meeting participants an opportunity to dialogue further with Mr. Bryden.

On Tuesday, March 25, the Secretary General met with representatives of several U.S.-based standards developing organizations to engage in a brainstorming session on ways to improve the working relationships between ISO and standards developing organizations that are accredited by ANSI.

As he reviewed several pages of statistics regarding current U.S. participation, Mr. Bryden said, “The U.S. is number one in ISO in terms of the number of TC/SC secretariats it holds (19%). Its participation as a P-member covers 77% of the total scope of ISO work and there are many examples of successful American involvement in the ISO system.”

The discussions then shifted to focus on the role and positioning of regional standards organizations, cooperations and free trade areas as vehicles to advance global standards and conformity assessment programs and reduce non-tariff technical barriers to trade.

Mr. Bryden noted that, though the Europeans have had a much longer and stronger commitment to ISO and to the actual use of our standards – in particular through national adoptions than the U.S. and other countries around the world – the participation of Asian countries in ISO technical committees has increased by some 25% in the last five years. “Participation is the key to leveling the playing field,” he stressed.

Innovation, flexibility, inclusivity and realism were identified as four principles necessary for continuing to move forward with collaboration in the regional and international standards development arenas.

“We were pleased that Mr. Bryden chose ANSI as his first national body visit,” said Gary Kushnier, ANSI vice-president of international policy. “The opportunity to dialogue and exchange views was quite valuable for everyone who participated. I believe that the information we shared with Mr. Bryden will be extremely helpful for him in his new role as ISO Secretary-General. It was equally valuable for leaders of the U.S. standards community to hear his viewpoints first-hand.”

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