Western Hemisphere Standards Related Activities
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The Global Standards Program under the Office of Standards Services participates in many standards related activities in the Western Hemisphere. The main goal is to coordinate many of the activities related to standardization that are taking place due to global and regional economic changes.
The following are Western Hemisphere Standards Related Activities with Global Standards Program staff participation:
creation of the Free Trade of the Americas, a U.S. initiative, began with the
first Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994. At that meeting, the 34 democratically
elected heads of state of the Americas agreed on a Declaration of Principles and
a Plan of Action to construct a Free Trade Area of the Americas eliminating trade
and investment barriers and to complete negotiations by 2005.
Trade ministers are responsible for overseeing and managing the negotiation process and their vice ministers carry out their decisions through the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC). Trade ministers met four times during the preparatory phase of the FTAA process: in Denver, Colorado in June 1995, in Cartagena, Colombia in March 1996, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in May 1997 and in San Jose, Costa Rica in March 1998. In Costa Rica, trade ministers recommended to the heads of state that they formally launch negotiations. Since then, two other ministerials have been held: in Toronto in November 1999 and in Buenos Aires in April 2001.
the preparatory phase, the technical work of the FTAA was carried out by twelve
working groups for the many pertinent issues relating to the integration of the
Western Hemisphere. The working group (WG) that addressed standards and technical
barriers to trade met twice a year in Washington, D.C. The WG compiled an inventory
of standards practices that promoted transparency; organized regional seminars
to promote understanding of the WTO TBT Agreement; discussed initial ideas for
approaches to negotiations; and drafted a common objectives paper. The working
group fulfilled its mandate with great success.
In May 2001, the negotiations commenced anew.
Technical and analytical support is provided jointly by three organizations: the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The FTAA administrative secretariat functions at the location where the negotiating groups meet, that is, Miami, FL from May 1998 until February 2001; Panama City until February 2003 and Mexico City thereafter.
NIST provides technical support
to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which leads the negotiations
for the United States.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico in 1994. It called for a Standards Related Measures (SRM) Committee to serve as a forum for the resolution of standards and conformity assessment issues that impact trade among the three NAFTA partners. The Committee on Standards-Related Measures operates under Chapter 9 of the NAFTA Agreement and follows the 15 articles in this chapter for guidance in addressing standards and conformity assessment issues. Five subcommittees deal specifically with issues relating to telecommunications, automotive, land transportation, labeling of textiles and apparel goods and pesticides.
The United States Trade Representative leads the government-to-government
discussions. As with the FTAA, NIST provides technical support as needed to resolve
any technical barriers to trade that arise.
Negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Chile were launched at the end of 2000. The pace of negotiations has been very fast and it is expected that an agreement will be reached in the near future.
NIST provides technical support to
US negotiators in the area of standards, conformity assessment, technical regulations
and information exchange.
DEVCO is the ISO Committee on developing country matters. It was created in 1961 and currently has over 55 participating (P) countries and 25 observer (O) countries. Its main goals are to:
NIST is responsible for helping ANSI to develop
and organize a U.S. DEVCO Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The TAG coordinates
the U.S. position with respect to DEVCO work and provides for participation in
the DEVCO Committee. The DEVCO Committee provides all countries the opportunity
to develop a greater understanding of standardization systems and policies and
possible solutions to problems that may develop in this area.
The Panamerican Standards Commission (COPANT), founded more than 35 years ago, is an association of the National Standards Bodies of the countries of the Americas, with twenty-six active members and five non-voting members. The Commission aims "to promote the development of technical standardization and related activities in its members' countries". NIST works closely with ANSI in COPANT activities.
COPANT was recently restructured to strengthen
its efforts and make them more effective. New Statutes and Rules of Procedures
were approved and a Board of Directors was created. In addition, three standing
committees on technical, political and information management issues support the
work of COPANT. The Board of Directors and the three committees will be working
towards the implementation of the COPANT strategic plan. COPANT technical work
is carried out by twelve technical committees, focusing on standards that respond
to regional needs.
The Interamerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) is a regional agreement among accreditation bodies in the Americas, which was created with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in November 1996. IAAC currently has 19 full members and 7 associate members. One of IAAC's main goals is the development of Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) among bodies of the Western Hemisphere that accredit any of the following entities: quality management system registrars, environmental management system registrars, testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, product certification and/or personnel.
U.S. signatories to the IAAC MoU are the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). As an ANSI member, NIST provides technical support to the U.S. delegation and to IAAC efforts in general.
IAAC conducts its work through the following five working groups:
The ANSI RSC for the Americas is one of three ANSI Regional Standing Committees. Other committees cover Europe / Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. These committees establish and coordinate the US private sector position in the respective regional activities in standardization and conformity assessment. They also provide a framework for addressing standards-related issues. NIST is an active participant in the regional standing committees. The ANSI Regional Standing Committee for the Americas:
There are currently
two standards experts located in the Western Hemisphere region, serving on limited
appointments with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service. One is located at the U.S.
Embassy in Mexico City and the other is at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia. The standards
expert residing in Mexico City also supports efforts in Central America and the
Caribbean, while the standards expert in Brasilia works with all the countries
in South America, especially the MERCOSUR countries of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay
For further information, please contact:
For technical questions concerning the Global Standards and Information Group, contact us:
Global Standards and
Information Group, Standards Services Division, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 2100, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2100
Date created: January 05, 1998