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An International Focus

I read Jim Thomas’ Plain Talk column in the October issue of Standardization News; it was very good. I have one major suggestion—the strategy should be an international standards strategy. I have just finished commenting on an ISO business plan which is written with the obvious assumption that they are the sole authority for “international” standards.

This is just not so and I believe it is past time for U.S. interests to bring this ISO opinion of itself into serious question. I do not believe the WTO [World Trade Organization] language supports this and I have brought this to the attention of the U.S. trade representative, the ISAC-15 [Industry Sector Advisory Committee] Textile Industry Advisory Committee, the ATMI [American Textile Manufacturers Institute] Standards Coalition, and in a number of papers we have generated relating to our own approach to standards and the differences we have with ISO standards on cordage and ropes.

Gale P. Foster
Technical Director,
Cordage Institute

I would like to comment on your recent editorial concerning international standards. In Europe, the national standardizing bodies are supported in whole or in part by the respective national governments. In and of itself, this is not bad, however, other than in Europe, most SDOs do not consider the political ramifications of standardization. In Europe, this is not the case.

European countries suffer from chronic unemployment. For example, current rates are: Germany, eight percent; England, eight percent; France, 10 percent; Italy, 11 percent; Spain, 13 percent; and Greece, 14 percent. Since the national governments pay the piper, they can and do exert high pressure on the standards bodies to vote for international standards that defend the economies of European countries, regardless of their technical merit. In addition, they call on many of their former colonies, who are members of ISO and IEC, to vote along with them. The United States and its few economic partners really don’t have a chance. I don’t know the solution, but we should recognize that the U.S. is not playing on a level field.

Albert L. Batik
Parker, Colo.

E-mail letters to: Maryann Gorman