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First ASTM International Technology Transfer Forum

by Luis Ordóñez

The first ASTM International Technology Transfer Forum was held in late January at the Hotel Presidente InterContinental in Mexico City. The objective of the forum was to provide the Mexican technical and scientific community with an opportunity to learn about the technology transfer made possible through participation in the development of ASTM standards. ASTM International is grateful to two divisions of the Mexican petroleum company PEMEX (the division of Engineering and Project Management and the division of Corporate Management for Industrial/Occupational Health, Safety, and Environment) and to the National Chamber of the Steel Industry (CANACERO) and CERREY, a boiler manufacturer, for their valuable assistance in developing and participating in this event.

At the forum, ASTM was honored by the attendance of nearly 50 distinguished members of the Mexican technical and engineering community. Of the Mexican standards organizations, ASTM was pleased to welcome Rafael Nava Uribe, president and chairman of the Mexican Council of Normalization and Certification and Mercedes Irueste, director of the Mexican Institute of Normalization and Certification.

Members of ASTM technical committees moderated the technical sessions, which covered steel, thermal insulation, and petroleum — Wayne Holliday, current chairman of the ASTM board of directors; Bill Edmunds, 1998 chairman of the board of directors; and Salvatore Rand, an instructor in ASTM International's Technical and Professional Training courses for fuels, respectively. The hosts from ASTM staff were Teresa Cendrowska, director, External Relations, and Jim Olshefsky, director, Technical Committee Services. Serving as moderator for the event was Luis Felipe Ordóñez, ASTM representative in Mexico and member of its board of directors.

The forum was divided into three sessions in two days. On the first day, Tiburcio Zazueta, corporate manager of standardization for PEMEX, discussed "The General Framework of Standardization in the Public Sector — PEMEX" and Erwin Fritz, PEMEX’s manager of technical standardization, spoke about "A Current View of Technical Standardization in PEMEX."

Zazueta described the standards development structure in Mexico with particular reference to PEMEX, discussing Mexican laws and regulations as well as PEMEX’s internal procedures for the development of official Mexican standards (NOM) and Mexican reference standards (NRF). Fritz discussed the close relationship between the development of standards and technology transfer and demonstrated the broad relationship between Mexico’s national standards and ASTM’s standards. Cendrowska and Olshefsky presented general information about ASTM’s standards development procedures and its Internet-based standards development tools, that facilitate international participation.

On the second day of the program, participants divided into three working groups according to their interest — steel, petroleum, and thermal insulation. The working groups reviewed the standards developed by ASTM and its consensus and balloting processes. This format helped established good relations among the participating scientists and technical experts.

The following conclusions were made at the closing plenary session of the event:

1. The Mexican scientific and technical community is greatly interested in participating in ASTM, as representatives of both the private and public sectors.
2. The Mexican Law of Metrology and Standardization is not an impediment to the Mexican technical community’s participation in ASTM technical committees.
3. The use of the English language (which is common to all the international standardization organizations) in ASTM’s standards is not an impediment to the participation of Mexican scientific and technical experts. Offering Spanish translations of some ASTM standards would, however, promote the effective dissemination of information, especially among operators in plants.
4. Participation in ASTM can be as an individual or through another association or trade group. ASTM can facilitate this participation through its Internet-based standards development technology.
5. ASTM is open to establishing a collaborative relationship with technical experts in Mexico.
ASTM is most appreciative to all in attendance for their contributions, which made this event such a success.

ASTM International’s Comments for WTO TBT Triennial Review

In February, ASTM International submitted its comments to the United States Trade Representative regarding the Triennial Review of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The WTO/TBT Agreement helps ensure that signatories do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade through the use of technical regulations and standards. ASTM’s comments read, in part:

“It is ASTM’s view that the TBT Agreement has taken on more value and relevance since the Second Triennial Review. This is due in large part to the emergence of Annex 4, which lays out principles for international standardization. These principles give the members a better understanding of the Agreement, i.e., that international standards used as a basis for technical regulation need only to be developed in accordance with certain principles to be credible and suitable for use within the meaning of the Agreement. These principles laid to rest the assumption that credible standards needed to be developed in a certain body, or in a body with particular membership requirements. Annex 4 is a statement of clarification that should lead to greater implementation among the members for one simple reason: it makes adherence achievable. It reinforces the rights of governments to choose standards that are most appropriate to their needs. This is useful both in industrialized countries where technical regulations keep pace with advancements in technology, and in lesser developed countries, where technical regulations are based on capacity.

“ASTM International believes that the right to choose is particularly important to lesser developed countries, as they may benefit from standardization bodies and processes that practice equity in a way that is more meaningful to them.

“The acceptance of these principles in the WTO/TBT Committee was a significant step forward, but to truly profit from the results of the Second Triennial Review and Annex 4, the committee must continue to act. It must increase the awareness of members of its content and significance. It must inform them of the activities of relevant bodies involved in the preparation of international standards. It must encourage member governments to inaugurate the selection of appropriate international standards from appropriate sources, but from the vantage point of choice. It must actively support the principles of Annex 4.” //

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