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Quality Digest


World Trade Report 2005 Highlights ISO’s Role

Published: Monday, July 18, 2005 - 22:00

The International Organization for Standardization is the “world’s largest developer of standards,” according to the World Trade Organization’s World Trade Report 2005. The recently released report was written by WTO economists and discusses the benefits standards deliver in terms of consumer information, environmental protection and the compatibility of related goods and services.

“International standards help ensure technical compatibility across countries and convey information to consumers about products that have been produced abroad or processes that took place in another country,” the report states. “International standards thus reduce transaction costs and facilitate international trade.”

The report identifies ISO and its partners, the International Electrotechnical Commission and the International Telecommunication Union, as “the most important” of the 49 international standardizing bodies, commenting “The expansion of membership in both ISO and the IEC over recent decades reflects the growing importance of international standards.”

“Increased standardization activity reflects, among other factors, demand by consumers for safer and higher-quality products, technological innovations, the expansion of global commerce and the increased concern paid by many governments and nongovernmental organizations to social issues and the environment,” the report states. “Standards have played an important role in fulfilling these needs.”

According to the WTO report, ISO and IEC produce about 85 percent of all international standards and in 2004, ISO published 1,247 standards and related documents, bringing its total to 14,900. While the private sector provides the biggest impetus to developing standards, the report points out that nongovernmental organizations have become involved, working with industry and international organizations to develop standards in areas such as the environment and corporate social responsibility.

“It’s certainly very encouraging for ISO and its 153 national members to see the importance of international standardization to trade and the economy, as well as to social issues such as the environment and social responsibility recognized and analyzed so thoroughly in the World Trade Report 2005,” says Alan Bryden, ISO secretary-general.

The World Trade Organization is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. Its goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters and importers conduct their business. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that develops international standards. It’s a global network that identifies what international standards are required by businesses, governments and society, develops them in partnership with the sectors that will put them to use and delivers them to be implemented worldwide.

For more information, visit www.iso.org.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.