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Commerce Department Issues Report on Standards and Competitiveness

A report on standards issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Standards and Competitiveness – Coordinating for Results, assesses department activities geared toward reducing standards-related trade barriers and recommends steps to increase the reach and effectiveness of the DOC’s and other federal agencies’ coordination of trade-related standards and conformity assessment. In March 2003, the Commerce Department announced an eight-point initiative in response to growing concern by U.S. industry, trade associations, and standards development organizations regarding foreign standards development and technical regulation as important trade issues. Over the past year, ASTM International has been involved with this initiative in the form of participation in industry roundtables, identifying priority standards issues in international markets, and commenting on training programs for commercial service officers. The 50 recommendations contained in the report will help the Commerce Department identify new opportunities and better ways to work with the private sector and other U.S. government agencies on standards-related issues. The full report can be accessed at the U.S. Department of Commerce Web site.

MasterCard’s Simon Pugh Named Honorary Chair of World Standards Day 2004

Representatives of the U.S. World Standards Day Planning Committee have announced that Simon Pugh, vice president, infrastructure and standards for MasterCard International’s e-business and emerging technologies group, will serve as honorary chairman during the World Standards Day exhibition, reception and dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Pugh’s leadership has helped to guide MasterCard’s efforts to develop and promote interoperable, reliable, and secure standards for domestic and international payments – a fitting tribute to the theme of this year’s event, “Standards Connect the World” (see below). Pugh is responsible for MasterCard’s participation in smart card, electronic and mobile commerce standards groups, as well as the infrastructure necessary to support these activities, including smart card security evaluation. Having joined MasterCard in June 2000, Pugh also works as a liaison with strategic business partners to promote the development of programs to support MasterCard’s e-business initiatives.

World Standards Day Paper Competition Theme Announced: “Standards Connecting the World”

In conjunction with the World Standards Day Planning Committee, the Standards Engineering Society has announced “Standards Connecting the World” as the theme for its annual paper contest. Open exclusively to U.S.-based organizations and individuals, the competition provides a means by which every entrant can help educate industry and government leaders on the importance of standards, and foster meaningful communication within the standards community. All submissions must be received with an official entry form by midnight Aug. 27 by the SES Executive Director, 2004 WSD Paper Competition, 13340 SW 96th Avenue, Miami, FL 33176. Papers must be submitted in English only, both in an electronic format (preferably in Microsoft Word on a diskette or CD-ROM) and in hard copy (two paper copies please).

E-Training for Developing Countries

The World Trade Organization has launched an e-training program for government officials of developing countries, the first of which will run until July 30. The courses are delivered through the Internet using distance learning technologies that allow interaction between participants and WTO tutors. The inaugural course is titled “Introduction to the WTO and its Basic Principles” and will be held in English. The objective of the course is to familiarize participants with the World Trade Organization, the multilateral trading system and its legal framework. Future courses will cover a range of WTO topics.

Toy Industry Conference

Providing a forum to address the challenges facing the youth industry, the Toy Industry Association will sponsor the second annual Multi-Discipline Conference July 18-20 in Chicago, Ill. The conference’s unique program is structured along individual tracks covering the areas of credit, logistics, safety and international trade, and also includes general business sessions as well. Conference subject matter includes: toy safety and the interaction of manufacturers, retailers, testing labs, government regulators and consumers on this issue, importation security issues in light of the war on terrorism, intellectual property rights, and more. For more information, see the conference brochure and registration form on the TIA Web site — click on TIA Trade Shows and Events; or contact Kimberly Catucci (fax: 212/633-1429).

Neapolitan Standard

A new national standard of sorts has arisen out of the efforts of the administration of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to ensure the authenticity of a national treasure — Neapolitan pizza. The pedigree of the standard, encoded in a law passed in Italy in May, is not unlike that of many standards: a trade association, in this case the Association of Real Neapolitan Pizza, urged lawmakers to strictly codify what makes a Neapolitan a Neapolitan. So what’s a standard Neapolitan? Hand-kneaded dough made into a thin crust, no more than 35 cm in diameter, and very specific types of flour, salt and yeast, as well as extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes from the Mount Vesuvius region, and bufala mozzarella. According to the New York Times, the European Union may follow suit, creating a regional standard that recognizes the Neapolitan pizza for the ancient classic that it is. //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International