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Open House, Open Exchange

Asia Pacific Standards Leaders Gather for Event at ASTM International Headquarters

by Maryann Gorman

On Sept. 23 and 24, leaders of standards developing organizations from 16 nations gathered together at ASTM International Headquarters for an Open House for Asia Pacific Standards Leaders. The event was sponsored by ASME International, Underwriters Laboratories, and ASTM International in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

At the start of the program, representatives of the three sponsoring organizations — June Ling, associate executive director of ASME Codes and Standards; Ted Hall, UL’s chief technical officer and senior vice president; and James Thomas, ASTM president — welcomed participants and encouraged an open exchange of ideas. This set the stage for what was to be a cordial and frank interchange of ideas and concerns regarding the current and even the future state of international standardization throughout the two-day program.

After the welcoming remarks, Kitty Kono, ASTM vice president of global cooperation, who organized the program, asked delegates to introduce themselves and say a few words about the standards developing organizations they represent and what issues they wanted the group to keep in mind during the Open House. The concise and informative presentations that followed did indeed create an informal issue -agenda for the program, as local and international standardization issues of concern to participants were referred to repeatedly throughout the scheduled presentations and discussions.

The program of speakers began with a presentation by Juan Antonio Dorantes, chairman of the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee. Speaking to the group by phone from his office in Mexico, Dorantes discussed the content and legal basis of Annex 4 of the report on the Second Triennial Review of the WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. In the question-and-answer period that followed, participants and Dorantes discussed the nature of an international standards body as defined by Annex 4.

The sponsoring and cooperating organizations — NIST, ASME, ANSI, UL, and ASTM — each presented speakers who educated participants about both the U.S. standards system, and their organizations’ methods and goals for creating market-relevant standards and related products and services that enhance public health and safety internationally.

Speakers included the following:

Mark Hurwitz, president and CEO, ANSI, presented the keynote address at the first day’s luncheon, emphasizing his vision of global collaboration in the creation of international standards. “The U.S. strongly supports efforts to maximize all cooperative relationships that will lead to the increased global market relevance of standards, faster development speed, and reduced duplication and overlap,” he said. Hurwitz specified that this could be achieved through various cooperative paths: 1) through mutual recognition agreements or memorandums of understanding between and among nations, 2) through regional associations, and 3) among standards developing organizations that are having a significant impact on the global economy. Hurwitz also emphasized that assistance to developing countries is critical, specifying donor countries’ plans to provide aid to these nations for standards development, especially in the form of information technology and training.

Mary Saunders, chief, Standards Services Division, NIST, described the U.S. government’s support of the American standards system. She emphasized the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, which mandates federal government support of the voluntary standards system and use of those standards in regulation and procurement.

Shogo Sakakura, president, Japanese Standards Association, spoke on the changing process of standards development in Japan. He discussed new frameworks that have been introduced in Japan for increasing the speed and efficiency of its standards development processes, specifically, the introduction of the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee Technical Specifications system and the Competent Standardization Body system, the new framework for standards development utilizing these new systems, and JSA’s new business strategy.

June Ling gave an overview of ASME, describing its vision and mission, its organizational structure, and its many products and services — the Continuing Education Institute, the Codes and Standards Division, publications, the ASME Foundation, accreditation marks, conformity assessment programs, and manufacturer accreditation.

Richard E. (Gene) Feigel, vice president of Hartford Steam Boiler, discussed the role of standards in international trade, with specific reference to ASME’s involvement in international standards development and touching on the role of the WTO TBT Agreement in encouraging the development of international standards.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of development, Codes and Standards, ASME, covered recent developments in ASME codes and standards: new standards issuances such as ASME Y14.41 on Digital Product Definition Data; Web-based process management, which allows ASME to perform development, voting and document maintenance online; and international participation in ASME’s standards development process.

Robert Williams, director of standards, UL, continued the theme of garnering international participation in a U.S.-based SDO by discussing the evolution and globalization of UL’s standards program. He described UL’s action plan for the globalization of its standards, emphasizing that UL is developing its capabilities as “an active force for a U.S. transition to worldwide harmonized standards.”

Donald Talka, director of international operations, UL, described UL’s specific plans for moving from seeing itself as an American company with an international client base to becoming a true global services provider that enjoys global recognition of its standards and international need for its services.

LunFai Lai, director of sales and marketing, Asian Operations, UL International Ltd. (Hong Kong), discussed UL’s Asia Pacific operation, which has 11 major offices in the region staffed by more than 1,300 professionals. He described UL Asia Pacific’s fulfillment services, which involve both customer service and engineering operations, and its recent expansion into certification services.

Donald Mader, executive vice president, UL, spoke on UL’s contribution to mutual recognition through its transportable conformity assessment strategy. He explained how UL’s strategy in this area enables market access and acceptance for its customers while meeting the needs of both acceptance interests and manufacturers and suppliers.

Richard Schulte, immediate past chairman of the ASTM board of directors, provided an overview of ASTM, covering its business model, mission, objectives, open participation, the use of its standards in regulation throughout the world, and its global outreach and strategy.

Paula Watkins, secretary to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 28 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, discussed the creation and implementation of a memorandum of understanding arranged between ASTM Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, ISO Technical Committee 28, and European Commission for Standardization (CEN) Technical Committee 19 on Petroleum Products, Lubricants, and Related Products.

Jim Thomas, president, ASTM, spoke on the changing world of international standardization. For the full text of his remarks, click here.

Question and answer periods followed each presentation. The discussions often circled back to the specific concepts and concerns raised by participants at the opening of the program, with each speaker adding the perspective of their organization to the recurring ideas. ASTM is grateful to the more than 40 participants and speakers who took the content of this Open House well beyond its formal agenda, toward creating an atmosphere in which issues were aired, valuable information was freely exchanged, and new connections were made among the people who fuel the standardization process in the Asia Pacific region. //

Jim Thomas, ASTM president (left), and Jesus Motoomull, director of the Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Bureau of Product Standards, sign a memorandum of understanding to promote cooperation beween the two organizations.

Philippines’ Bureau of Product Standards Signs MOU with ASTM International

One common purpose among the memorandums of understanding that ASTM has been signing with national standards bodies around the world is that ASTM may aid signatories in strengthening their standards development infrastructures. One of the ways ASTM does this is by providing an annual set of ASTM standards to the signatories’ main offices. A story related to Open House attendees by Jesus Motoomull after signing the MOU illustrated this perfectly. Motoomull described his
experience as a high school student researching an engineering project. When he visited the Philippine Bureau of Product Standards, they were unable to fulfill his request at that time to see an ASTM standard. “With this MOU,” Motoomull said, “ASTM standards will be available at the Bureau of Product Standards, not only for consumers, regulators, and engineers, but for students as well.”

Copyright 2003, ASTM

Maryann Gorman is editor in chief of SN.

Open House Comments from Participants:

Note: The participants’ comments represent the frank exchange of personal views encouraged by the event organizers, and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the standards bodies they represent.

Ross Wraight, Chief Executive,
Standards Australia International
“I must admit I am a ‘hopeless internationalist.’ One of the things we should concentrate on is getting rid of national interests and focusing on what is of global interest.”

Chinese Taipei
Neng-Jong Lin, Director General, Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection
“Our bureau wants to ensure that standards respond to the marketplace and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.”

Joseph S. Singh, Chairman, Trade
Standards Advisory Council of Fiji
“A knowledge gap exists among countries and it stifles effective communication and that needs to be addressed. America is challenged to raise awareness of the plight of smaller economies in the standards development realm.”

Dr. Sunarya Yososoemarto, Deputy for
Standardization Application and Accreditation, National Standardization Agency of Indonesia
“If standards are developed with the purpose of dominating or monopolizing, then this is a danger to the world of standardization.”

Michio Sakurada, Deputy Secretary General, Japanese Industrial Standards Committee
“The development of international standards should be based on full consensus rather than majority voting.”

Mariani Mohammed, Director General, Department of Standards Malaysia
“For developing countries, simply attending meetings does not automatically result in effective participation — there is a need for other members to
listen to our points of view.”

Ariunaa Adiya, Vice Chairman, Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology
“In Mongolia, the government has passed a new law, Standardization and Conformity Assessment of 2003, that requires the use of voluntary rather than compulsory standards. We recognize that national standards need to be the focus of international standards development and adoption, and we encourage the avoidance of unnecessary barriers to trade.”

New Zealand
Rob Steele, Chief Executive, Standards New Zealand
“Our focus has been on speed to market, but this is not all we need to do to meet industry needs. We also need to promote standards, especially to training industry leaders on the benefits of the standardization process.”

People’s Republic of China
Zhang Yanhua, Vice Administrator,
Standardization Administration of China
“China is transforming from a planning economy to a market-driven economy. It is a complicated process and the Chinese government is playing a positive role in promoting enterprises’ active participation in international standardization activities.”

Jesus L. Motoomull, Director, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Product Standards
“Small- to medium-sized enterprises play an important role in the economy of the Philippines, and one of our goals is to encourage their participation in the standardization process.”

Vitaliy V. Usov, President, Gosstandart of Russia
“Russia’s new federal law of technical regulation is a wide-ranging law that will require much adjustment to our development of technical regulations and harmonized standards.”

Nam Kuan Teo, General Manager,
Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board – SPRING Singapore
“We support the ISO/IEC system completely. We acknowledge also that there are other organizations that develop standards as well that can be adopted. Our policy is to engage and work with these organizations to the benefit of Singapore industry.”

South Africa
Eugene Julies, President, South Africa Bureau of Standards
“When donor countries assist developing countries, there is often a failure to follow up. We need assistance with an eye toward long-term sustainability of projects, and we also need recognition for the contribution from developing countries in the
standards developing process.”

Supachai Tepatanapong, Director for International Relations, Thai Indusrial Standards Institute
“Our institute’s mission is to provide a standards and conformity-assessment infrastructure that promotes small- and medium-sized enterprises, to become a tool through which SMEs gain market access, and to allow cost-effective standards development and dissemination.”

Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, Senior Officer of Planning and Cooperation, Directorate for Standards and Quality
“Our concerns in today’s standardization environment include establishing a working standards development infrastructure, finding and using knowledgeable and experienced personnel in the creation of standards, funding, gaining the participation of businesses, and dealing with language barriers in international standardization.”