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July/August 2010
PlainTalk

James A. Thomas, President, ASTM InternationalChoosing Standards Based on Merit

Standards from U.S.-Based Organizations

When I first started writing this column more than 10 years ago, there were several issues that were passionately engaging the world standards community. There was a controversy over the definition of an international standard. The World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee had not yet written its “Principles for the Development of International Standards,” and there were some who thought that the best way to judge a standard’s worth was by its label. That was then.

Through all of that, ASTM International and other standards developing organizations based in the United States kept producing standards of exceptional quality and relevance. We kept our doors open and invited world-class technical experts from other countries to join us in creating the best standards anyone could produce. In time, ASTM standards and other standards produced in the U.S. system became the standards of choice for governments around the world, as they increasingly used them as the basis for their technical regulations.

I am now pleased to present a paper published by ASTM International titled “Choosing Standards Based on Merit: Liberalizing Regulation, Trade and Development.” It is a story of the U.S. standardization system, its characteristics, its strengths, its contributions to the world at large, and the universal acceptance and use of its standards. It is an investigative report of governments and manufacturers around the world who are choosing and using U.S.-based standards because they are most relevant to their needs.

For our ASTM International members and colleagues in the U.S.-based standardization system who contributed to this paper, this is an opportunity to pause for a moment from your work, to see the impact it is having in the global marketplace and in developing countries, and to note with pride that the standards you are creating here and now are used and trusted all over the world.

James A. Thomas
President, ASTM International

Choosing Standards Based on Merit: Liberalizing Regulation, Trade and Development,” can be found on the ASTM website.

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