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GUEST BLOG: Standards Boost Business

S. Joe Bhatia, CEO and President of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has advice for American companies on a topic we don’t see very often in the news. Streamlining standards and conformance procedures is becoming increasingly essential in an increasingly complex global economy, and is extremely important to business competitiveness and global trade. Standards apply to the quality, safety, intellectual property, and environmental performance of both manufactured products and services. For example, standards in manufacturing are important for American businesses to increase productivity and reduce costs. Standards in energy efficiency can encourage businesses abroad to match the stricter but environmentally-friendly standards of production that many American companies already follow.

USTR works through trade agreements and international economic cooperatives like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) to encourage other countries to set and enforce shared standards and conformance procedures. This process helps to facilitate the conduct of international trade for more rapid trade flows. Below, Mr. Bhatia shares how standards can open export opportunities for American businesses and strengthen the national economy.

As the United States looks to increase access to foreign markets, spur job creation at home, and forge a path for sustainable economic growth, there is a powerful business tool that can help American industries keep up with – and even accede – global competition.

I’m talking about standardization – and there has never been a more crucial time for American businesses to take advantage of the benefits of standards and conformance. As the technical underpinning of many products and services, standards play a critical role in removing barriers to trade, enforcing free trade agreements, and expanding foreign markets for U.S. goods and services. This results in increased export opportunities for American companies abroad, which in turn helps create more jobs here at home. And standards and conformance also help companies strengthen efficiency and overall performance, potentially saving them millions of dollars.

That is why the American National Standards Institute, together with partners across the standardization community, has launched Standards Boost Business (SBB) – an initiative to help American companies leverage standards and conformance to win a trade advantage in the global market. 

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, more than 80 percent of global commodity trade is impacted by standards and conformance – that amounts to more than $13 trillion each year. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why companies that participate actively in standardization gain a competitive edge.

There are various case studies that present the proof that those who effectively influence and address standardization and compliance issues have the greatest success in the global marketplace. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense is projecting $789 million in cost avoidance through standardization, and Dominion Resources, one of the nation’s largest energy producers and transporters, has saved millions of dollars, increased efficiencies, and improved safety measures.

Standardization is a strategic tool that is important to the long-term competitiveness of any business. We encourage businesses to rely on standards and conformity assessment systems to design products and services. Demonstrating compliance to standards helps your products, services, and personnel to cross borders. Standards also make cross-border interoperability possible, ensuring that products manufactured in one country can be sold and used in another.

ANSI also encourages businesses to participate in standards development activities, both domestic and internationally. By doing so, businesses have has the opportunity to directly influence the requirements and guidelines for products and services in the international arena and align them with market demand.

Standards and conformance are essential to a sound national economy and global commerce. And by impacting our ability to expand new markets and international trade, standards help to keep our economy dynamic, open, and competitive.

Together – through standards and conformance – we can foster innovation, drive business growth, and advance America’s competitiveness on the global stage.