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ANSI Organizes U.S.-Saudi Commercial Work Plan Standards Stakeholder Dialogue

7/18/2022

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in partnership with the United States Department of Commerce, co-hosted a Standards Stakeholder Dialogue among U.S. government representatives, ANSI-accredited standards developing organizations (ASDs), and high-level delegates from the Saudi Standards Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO). The dialogue took place in advance of the June 15 “U.S.-Saudi Commercial Work Plan” launch between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Saudi Ministry of Commerce.

The primary goal of the dialogue was to facilitate targeted U.S.- Saudi collaboration and to highlight the U.S.- Saudi Commercial Work Plan, a roadmap that helps guide cooperation between the U.S. Department of Commerce and Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Commerce as the countries continue to deepen their bilateral relationship.

The dialogue highlighted standards collaboration efforts between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and existing U.S. activity on emerging technologies. The event featured presentations and a Q&A session exploring the various ways U.S. standards developing organizations have successfully collaborated with Saudi stakeholders, and how they can use standards as well as conformity assessment procedures in the Gulf regions. In attendance were Joe Bhatia, president, and CEO, American National Standards Institute (ANSI); Dr. Saad Alkasabi, Governor, Saudi Standards Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) and his delegation, as well as Jim Golsen, senior commercial officer and counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce; Anthony Quinn, team lead - Office of Standards and Intellectual Property at U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC); Naomi Wiegler, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Middle East and North Africa; and Hanan Hali, program manager, U.S. Commercial Service, among other key stakeholders.

In their opening remarks, Bhatia and Alkasabi shared their perspectives on future engagements and collaborations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The following representatives provided brief presentations detailing training and projects involving the Saudi standards community:

  • Ahamad Mhanna, Director, Middle East/North Africa Region, American Concrete Institute (ACI)
  • Jim Olshefsky, Director, External Relations, ASTM International
  • Peter Benson, Executive Director, Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA)
  • Olga Caledonia, Executive Director, International Programs, National Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Judy Zakreski, Vice President of Global Services, International Code Council (ICC)
  • Zahi Daher, Regional Standards Manager, MENA Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

Also during the event, Judy Zakreski of ICC presented Alkasabi with the 2022 ICC Global Award in recognition of his leadership in the Saudi Building Code National Committee as it moved to launch the 2018 Saudi Building Code, which is based on the 2015 International Codes. The ICC Global Award is presented by the ICC Global Membership Council to individuals or organizations with outstanding performance in promoting building safety in the world and supporting ICC carry out its global mission.

At the conclusion of the event, Alkasabi extended an invitation for all U.S. private-sector stakeholders to consider having a regional office in the Gulf region, noting that this would enable stakeholders to take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2023 and regional strategy. He also highlighted areas in which Saudi Arabia has adopted U.S. standards for energy efficiency and road safety. Jim Golsen of the U.S. Department of Commerce highlighted standards and the need for companies to leverage the U.S.-Saudi Commercial Work Plan. He also announced that DoC is working to have a standards attaché on the ground. The DoC will share more information on these and other developments as they become available.

Background on the U.S.-Saudi Commercial Work Plan

The U.S.-Saudi Commercial Work Plan aims to enhance technical exchange between the U.S. Department of Commerce and Saudi Ministry of Commerce in priority areas, facilitate connections, develop actionable market intelligence for both private sectors, and advance business-to-business partnerships. The main pillars of the Work Plan are: Building Green Economies, Strengthening the Roles of American Women and Small and Medium Enterprises in Saudi Arabia’s Commercial Environment, Promoting Innovation, and Increasing Investment in the United States.
 
The ’Promoting Innovation’ pillar includes a goal of developing a proactive and strategic approach to information sharing on best practices for standards and conformity assessment, with the goal of helping U.S. companies to maintain access to the Saudi market. The primary focus will be on standards for emerging technologies, including but not limited to artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, smart cities, renewable energy, waste management, energy storage, and smart grids.

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