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ISO General Assembly Focuses on Innovation in Economic and Social Progress

Published: Monday, October 10, 2005 - 21:00

The contributions of international standards to economic and social progress, and their role in disseminating technological innovation, were the focus of the International Organization for Standardization’s General Assembly, held September 19-23 in Singapore.

A total of 360 delegates from 113 countries attended the event. It was the first time that Singapore hosted the General Assembly and the first time that it has been held at a Southeast Asian country. When opening the assembly, ISO President Masami Tanaka said that due to Singapore’s long experience in standardization, the country is a good role model for other countries. “Singapore is an example of what can be achieved by a small country with few natural resources and should therefore be an inspiration to other small countries and developing economies that have joined ISO in recent years,” Tanaka said.

He also pointed out standardization in developing countries is often at a very basic level because national standards bodies in these countries lack the technical expertise to develop standards. Participation in ISO would help.

“ISO standards reduce technical barriers to trade because they make transparent the requirements that products must meet on world markets,” Tanaka said. “As a result, suppliers from developing countries can compete on an equal basis with those from developed countries in the global market.”

Two items on the General Assembly’s program were especially important: “Global Trade in Services—New Challenges for International Standardization,” and “Security and the Global Economy—Contribution of International Standardization.”

“On the security front, the threat of terrorism is very real and is unlikely to disappear in the near future,” says Cedric Foo, ISO member for Singapore. “Security standards help to create a safer environment and conditions for doing business both within and between countries. ISO has risen proactively to meet current global security needs with the formation of the ISO/IEC strategic advisory group to oversee and coordinate standardization activities relevant to security.”

Another highlight of the assembly was a panel discussion centering on innovation’s role in standardization. Panelists and speakers gave examples of how companies use standards to encourage innovation, and achieve product and service differentiation. Many attendees reported that ISO should foster new initiatives, such as the new technical committee on nanotechnology, to better anticipate new fields where standardization might be beneficial.

For more information, visit www.iso.org.

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