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 April 2005 Feature
Teresa Cendrowska is the director of external relations in ASTM International’s Global Cooperation Division.

CSCA China Office
Ste. 1903 China Resources Building, No. 8 Jianguomenbei Ave., Beijing 100005, People’s Republic of China

Phone: 86-10-8519-1920
Fax: 86-10-8519-1910
Chris Lanzit, Executive Director
or
Liu Fei, Director of Operations

Enabling U.S.-Chinese Cooperation in Standards and Conformity Assessment

In May, a new office staffed by the Consortium for Standards and Conformity Assessment will celebrate its grand opening in Beijing, China. The consortium, consisting of four U.S.-based international standards developers, including ASTM International, has created the office to help China access the market-relevant, international standards and related services developed by its members.

In mid-2003, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration Office of Asia and Pacific brought together the U.S. private sector standards development and conformity assessment communities to discuss the possibility of establishing and funding an office in China. The U.S. private sector welcomed the initiative and in October of that year, 12 U.S.-based standards development and conformity assessment organizations confirmed their interest in this to then-DOC Secretary Donald Evans.

With a private-sector commitment in place, Commerce Secretary Evans, along with officials from China’s General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine held discussions on ways to enhance American-Chinese cooperation in the areas of standards and conformity assessment. The goals of such cooperation were to support further development of bilateral trade and to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The representatives of DOC and AQSIQ agreed to two initiatives:

• Convene a major bilateral workshop on standards and conformity assessment, and
• Support the establishment of a U.S. private-sector standards and conformity assessment liaison office in China to establish a permanent presence in Beijing and facilitate cooperation and information exchange between U.S. and Chinese counterparts.

In support of the first of these goals, a very successful bilateral workshop took place in August 2004 in Beijing. Attended by over 150 U.S. and Chinese government and private sector standards and conformity assessment experts, the two-day event included discussions on enhancing standards cooperation, removing market barriers, trends in each nation’s standards development process, and the importance of voluntary standards to technology innovation.

The second initiative has also become a reality. Four U.S.-based international standards development organizations established the Consortium for Standards and Conformity Assessment (see sidebar below), or CSCA, which has successfully partnered with the U.S. DOC’s International Trade Administration Market Development Cooperator Program. The consortium’s members are the American Petroleum Institute, ASME International (formerly known as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), ASTM International, and CSA America.

(Article continues after sidebar)

CSCA Members

American Petroleum Institute

The American Petroleum Institute, founded in 1919, is the primary trade association of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. API represents more than 400 members involved in all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry. Located in Washington, D.C., API draws on the experience and expertise of its members and staff to support a strong and viable oil and natural gas industry.

API provides the opportunity for standards development, technical cooperation, and other activities to improve the industry’s competitiveness through sponsorship of self-supporting programs in standards and publishing; certification; its Monogram program, which verifies quality in upstream and downstream industry equipment and suppliers; and a Training Provider Certification Program, which identifies and certifies industry training schools based on quality and competency of training services.

ASME International

ASME is a not-for-profit scientific, educational, and technical organization for mechanical engineering, which was founded in 1880. It is a membership organization with 125,000 individual members internationally. ASME holds more than 50 technical conferences and 200 professional development courses each year and has 62 agreements of cooperation with engineering societies around the world.

ASME promulgates and publishes approximately 600 codes and standards addressing a broad range of topics related to engineering. One such code is the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, which is accepted in over 80 countries and is ASME’s most widely used code. ASME has accredited over 100 manufacturers under the BPVC conformity assessment system.

ASTM International

ASTM International is a global forum for the development of consensus standards.

Organized in 1898, ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. ASTM is a not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM’s members, representing producers, users, consumers, government, and academia from 115 countries, develop technical documents that are a basis for manufacturing, management, procurement, codes, and regulations.

CSA America

CSA America, Inc. provides programs accredited by ANSI with both national and international exposure for participation in the development of standards and product testing and certification. CSA America has over 75 years of history in the development of standards and conformity assessment. This involves multiple industry sectors providing opportunity for established and emerging industries.

CSA America has over 450 industry, business, government, regulatory and consumer committee members participants in its primary standards development programs, and holds over 50 meetings each year. With over 6,000 U.S. customers in multiple business areas, CSA America is well recognized.

The four organizations have committed $900,000 over three years to match a $399,500 award from Commerce’s MDCP. The funding facilitates the establishment of a CSCA office in Beijing. More importantly, the MDCP award enables the four consortium membernment for the purpose of engaging China on standards and conformity assessment issues and establishing and maintaining relationships with peer agencies and individuals in China. Heidi Hijikata, standards liaison for the International Trade Administration, expresses the value of such public- private cooperation. “Within the industry-led U.S. standards system, private-publiccooperation is invaluable,” she says. “We are excited about the synergy that will be created between the efforts of ITA and CSCA, which will lead to a better understanding of the Chinese standards system, contribute to our early warning system, and ultimately increase U.S. exports to China.”

CSCA Location and Staff

The CSCA China office is co-located with the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. Two staff members have been appointed. Chris Lanzit will serve as executive director of CSCA. Lanzit, who is fluent in Mandarin, served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years after his graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy. After his retirement from the USAF, Lanzit worked for nine years running the Hughes Electronics Hong Kong office, continuing in that role when Boeing Integrated Defense Systems acquired the satellite manufacturing arm of Hughes. He received his masters in systems management from the University of Southern California and was a research fellow at Harvard University.

Lanzit sees significant compatibility between the CSCA China office’s objectives and China’s demand for standards and conformity assessment systems. He notes, “In my more than 10 years of involvement with China, it has become more and more clear to me that, as this country continues its rapid economic, social and political advancement, the demand for the development of standards and conformity assessment systems to meet this rapidly changing situation is critical. One of the main tasks I see for the CSCA China office is to work with Chinese government officials and industry executives on the development of standards and conformity assessment systems that are open and compatible with those in existence in the United States and certainly as practiced by the consortium’s member organizations.”

CSCA’s director of operations, Liu Fei, served as a commercial specialist in the U.S. Embassy’s Trade Facilitation Office in Beijing from 2003 to 2005. After his graduation from university in 1989 until 2003, Liu had worked with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Ethiopia, a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

Based on his work at the U.S. Embassy’s Trade and Facilitation Office, where he handled several standards issues for U.S. industries over the last two years, and especially because of his close involvement in organizing two significant China-U.S. Standards and Conformity Assessment seminars, Liu believes the CSCA office is being established at an opportune time.

As Liu explains, China, because of the rapid expansion of its economy and manufacturing base over the last two decades, and because of its accession to the WTO in 2001, has recognized that standards are a key factor for success. With this in mind, China launched two research programs in September 2002. The programs, on the technical standards development strategy in China and the establishment of a national technical standards system, established strategic goals to be accomplished in three phases by 2050.

• By 2010, form a new voluntary technical standards system and enhance the market adaptability of technical standards;
• By 2020, perfect the technical standards system and raise the level of Chinese technical standards development; and
• By 2050, ensure that Chinese technical standards hold a pre-eminent and prominent international status.

This strategy has created a demand for the development of technical standards and conformity assessment programs across a wide range of industry sectors. However, at this moment, the Chinese system is not yet viable enough to address the demand. “It is the right moment,” Liu states, “for the CSCA China office to come into being and to set up a bridge for both the U.S. and Chinese standards systems, promoting the acceptance of standards and conformity assessment of its members and even other U.S.-based developers, and helping China merge the international standards and conformity assessment into its own system in order to reach China’s strategic objectives in standardization.”

The CSCA office is now open for business; a formal grand opening is being planned for late May.

A Resource for China

With China’s accession to the World Trade Organization comes an obligation for China to comply with the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The TBT Agreement has established certain rules and procedures that pertain to the development, adoption and application of mandatory technical regulations, voluntary product standards, and the procedures used to determine compliance with those standards and regulations. This includes basing the standards, regulations and conformity assessment procedures on relevant, international standards (1) and guidelines.

The CSCA office provides a resource for Chinese governmental and enterprise representatives through which they can better understand the multiple paths to international standardization and conformity assessment. China can then apply this knowledge to positively influence standards and conformity assessment practices to ensure that the documents reflect China’s needs and enable China’s access to global markets.

Craig Allen, senior commercial service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, views the establishment of the CSCA office as very supportive of China’s goal of developing a complete national technical standards system. At the same time he sees the office providing China with a practical opportunity to understand and apply a market-oriented, enterprise-centered standards development and conformity assessment system. “The CSCA office will be able to promote the advantages of the U.S. market-oriented standards development process and provide first-hand knowledge of how an open, transparent standards development system works. As China seeks to make its own standards relevant and responsive to the global market, CSCA’s presence will be a great resource. The U.S. Department of Commerce looks forward to the important contribution CSCA will make to both China’s standards experts and U.S. exporters.”

Education and Networking

The CSCA office provides an on-the-ground direct link to four major organizations that develop standards and conformity assessment procedures that are applied globally. Together, the consortium’s members have developed over 15,000 standards that affect all aspects of global trade. The office can provide Chinese professionals with introductions to a global network of technical experts who represent the producers and users in large, medium and small enterprises as well as governmental and academic representatives who have collectively developed and are currently implementing the standards and conformity assessment procedures. Because of the ease of reaching the consortium members through the Beijing office, it is possible for the Chinese to arrange training on the process of developing international standards, to obtain detailed technical information and explanations regarding the application of standards individually or as part of a conformity assessment process, and to learn about certification programs in greater detail.

The Beijing location also allows for consortium members to strengthen partnerships that have previously been established with Chinese organizations and to establish and develop new relationships. Mark Sheehan, managing director of development, ASME Codes and Standards, emphasizes the benefit of partnership; “ASME has established relationships with several organizations in China. Participating in an office in Beijing will help those relationships grow stronger — an important aspect of doing business in China. This will help not only ASME, but anyone who uses ASME standards for products sold in China.”

Influence

The U.S.-based system of international standards development has been built on a process in which technical experts gather to share knowledge to collectively develop and maintain standards of high quality and global relevance. Participants in the U.S.-based standards development process come from many nations and contribute their knowledge to the content of a standard. This collaborative approach results in standards and assessment processes that reflect the needs and know-how of a global marketplace.

The CSCA represents an opportunity for China to learn how to more effectively participate in, and therefore directly influence, the content of international standards and the conformity assessment programs in which those standards are applied. “Chinese technical experts have tremendous untapped opportunity to impact the content of ASTM standards,” says Kathleen Kono, ASTM International’s vice president of global cooperation. “In order to give Chinese technical experts a chance to act on these opportunities, it is important that we offer them a way to understand just how open the ASTM International process is to their input. We believe the CSCA office will help bring that message to the sectors in China that can benefit from greater participation in ASTM International.” Unquestionably, Chinese participation in standards development is beneficial to China as well as to its trading partners since the resulting standards and conformity assessment processes will reflect China’s needs (i.e., the required parameters for a particular product) and knowledge (i.e., the advantageous application of a technology that China may have developed or improved).

Trade Facilitation and Technology Transfer

Standards and conformity assessment are tools used in everyday commerce and trade. Though standards have long been intuitively accepted as facilitators of trade, the WTO TBT agreement has formally incorporated standards and conformity assessment into international trade. Developed through a deliberative process and founded on extensive research, these tools effectively provide for a level playing field and ensure that two parties involved in a contract or two nations involved in trade are able to communicate clearly, in a common language.

Standards and conformity assessment enable the transfer of technology as well as economic and social development. Because voluntary consensus standards incorporate various aspects of current market practice — for example safety, quality, efficiency, or the implementation of new materials — China will benefit from the application of these tools in improving the quality of its goods, advancing the health and safety of its people and environment, and enhancing its competitiveness in a global marketplace.

Kathleen Combs, the American Petroleum Institute’s director for business services, provides an example of the types of market benefits standards deliver: “Chinese manufacturers and owner-operators rely on API standards to ensure safe operations, communicate with suppliers and contractors, purchase equipment and materials, and gain access to markets. Eight years ago, there were five Chinese manufacturers licensed in our API Monogram program. Today, there are 450 Chinese Monogram licensees holding 720 licenses verifying their quality systems and their capability to manufacture according to API specifications. These Chinese manufacturers recognize that API standards and certification programs are a proven way of lowering costs while maintaining consistent quality and performance.”

Valuable Partnership Opportunity

Consortium members view the CSCA office as a tremendous opportunity to establish a partnership with China focused on mutual growth and understanding. The office demonstrates the pairing of U.S. public and private interests and the prospect for collaboration with China. Spencer Grieco, vice president, CSA America, notes that “CSCA represents a wide range of technical standards and assessment programs with years of domestic and international experience. We hope to share our experience to create opportunities that will represent the United States’ and China’s interests nationally and internationally.”

The consortium members, through the Department of Commerce’s Market Development Cooperator Program, look forward to establishing a continuous presence in China, developing collaborative relationships, and sharing information that will be mutually beneficial. An often-quoted Chinese proverb states that, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” The CSCA office in Beijing takes a good first step toward accomplishing these objectives while at the same time assisting China in addressing some of its strategic standards and conformity assessment goals. Allen Callahan, manager of standards, CSA America, comments, “I am excited about the new CSCA office in Beijing and I look forward to our working with China’s standards, conformity and business communities.” He speaks for all the members of CSCA.

Reference

1 International standards as developed by international standards development organizations meeting the criteria outlined in Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations with Relations to Articles 2, 5 and Annex 3 of the TBT Agreement, modified November 2000. Principles include: transparency, openness, balance, consensus, relevance, and a development dimension.

 
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