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United States and Chile Sign Historic Free Trade Agreement

The United States and Chile have signed a historic and cutting-edge Free Trade Agreement that, when fully implemented, eliminates bilateral tariffs, lowers trade barriers, promotes economic integration and expands opportunities for the peoples of both countries. The U.S. - Chile FTA is the first free trade agreement between the United States and a South American country. The FTA is intended to increase U.S. market access for goods and services and provide strong protections for U.S. investors in Chile.

Two-way trade in goods (exports plus imports) between the United States and Chile totaled $6.4 billion in 2002. Two-way trade in services in 2001 (latest year available) amounted to $2.2 billion. Since 1994, U.S. goods trade with Chile has expanded by 39 percent (to 2002) and services trade by 37 percent (to 2001). Upon Congressional approval of this agreement, 85 percent of industrial products will be traded without duties. In less than four years, 75 percent of farm production will also be freely traded. After 10 years, all trade in non-agricultural goods will take place without tariffs or quotas; for agriculture, the phaseout will take 12 years.

Standards Regulatory and Policy Officials from Stability Pact Nations Meet with U.S. Delegation in Geneva

A four-day workshop on the coordination of standards and conformity assessment activities in southeastern Europe was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in June with the development of proposed action plans for ongoing collaboration among the nations present. “The lack of a clear and coordinated infrastructure in standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment systems is one of the primary barriers to efficient trade and investment in the region,” explained conference organizer, Stuart Kerr, senior counsel of the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “By introducing standards officials from the southeastern Europe ‘Stability Pact’ nations to a wide range of national, regional and international standards and conformity assessment systems infrastructures, they will be on a path for improved regional coordination activities.”

Delegations from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia-Montenegro each comprised four representatives from ministries and standards certification bodies in the respective nations. A two-person observer delegation from Kosovo was also in attendance. In addition to the standards and conformity assessment focus, sessions on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (WTO/TBT), WTO/TBT enquiry points, the transparency of information, and mutual recognition arrangements/agreements and multi-lateral agreements were presented by a panel of experts. Representatives of the American National Standards Institute; ANSI-accredited standards developers ASTM International, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.; the International Organization for Standardization (ISO); the WTO; and the Stability Pact Trade Working Group addressed the audience at various times during the week.

A Century of UL Standards for Safety

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is celebrating its 100th anniversary in standards development. As one of the world’s leading standards development organizations, UL has published more than 880 Standards for Safety since 1903 – for products ranging from fire-rated building materials to information technology equipment to electrical household appliances. UL’s first Standard for Safety – UL 10A for Tin-Clad Fire Doors – has expanded into the 886 current UL standards, each developed and maintained with input by UL engineers in conjunction with industry, government
agencies, regulatory authorities, members of academia and consumer advocates.

UL continues to focus on its public safety mission by participating in more than 200 international technical committees, serving in leadership positions on many, in an effort to actively pursue harmonization of U.S. standards with international standards. These activities seek to provide safe products to the global marketplace and global market access for UL’s customers.

Millions of products and their components have been tested to UL Safety Standards, which increase users’ confidence in the UL Mark on a product and provides a safer environment.

UL will continue to promote its 100th anniversary in standards development during this year’s World Standards Week, Sept. 29 through Oct. 2. For more information on UL Standards for Safety, visit www.ul.com/info/standard.htm or contact Robert Williams, UL director of standards (phone: 919/549-1977).

Steel on the Net

A free global steel industry information service is on the Internet at www.steelonthenet.com. The site includes newsfeeds, updated as often as every 15 minutes, covering the latest sales and marketing developments in the industry in China, Japan, Russia, Central Europe, Western Europe and North America; free global steel pricing information; worldwide hot rolled plate, coil, sheet, sections, bar, rod prices etc., updated monthly, with free on-line medium-term forecasts accessible to all; and links to buyers and suppliers worldwide.

Mold Conference

Mold in buildings has become a significant problem, especially in the south of the United States, in humid areas. A conference entitled Ventilation, Humidity Control, and Energy will be held Oct. 12 - 14, 2003, at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored by the International Energy Agency, through its Air Infiltration and Ventilation Center, and co-sponsored by the Building Environment and Thermal Envelope Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences. The conference will cover new science on the interaction of ventilation, moisture, and humidity. Over 28 papers will be presented, from both the European community and the United States. Contact Patricia Cichowski (phone: 202/289-7800 (in the United States)) or (phone: 32 2 655 77 72; conferences@inive.org (in the EU)). Additional information can be found at www.nibs.org or www.aivc.org. //

Copyright 2003, ASTM