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The Importance of Standards and Conformity Assessment

Product standards make up the basic building blocks of trade. Such standards typically include design and construction specifications, procedures, performance criteria, definitions of terms, and the like. Exporters whose products or services do not conform to the standards of importing nations are excluded from those markets.

Conformity assessment determines whether a product or service is meeting appropriate standards and specifications. Such assessments are usually undertaken by regulatory agencies, independent assessors, or manufacturers for purposes of quality assurance and consumer safety. Typical conformity assessment activities include testing, surveillance, inspection, auditing, certification, registration, and accreditation.

Taken together, standards and conformity assessment constitute a very important weapon in America’s arsenal against non-tariff barriers to trade. America’s trade competitors are looking for ways to neutralize that weapon by requiring other nations to exclude U.S. products and services from foreign markets. When this happens, the resulting loss of U.S. market share overseas translates directly into fewer U.S. exports, job losses in the United States, and a blow to U.S. competitiveness.

For decades, the U.S. Government and American businesses have enjoyed a privileged position in the Arab world. That role is changing, however, as Arab nations look to enhance their burgeoning commercial relationships with other trade and investment partners around the world. This strategic shift has created an opening for America’s trade competitors – especially those in Europe and Asia – who are anxious to exploit America’s waning influence on standards and conformity assessment in the Arab world.

NUSACC: A Key Standards Resource

The Arab world represents one of America’s most important and strategic markets. U.S. exports to Arab nations are likely to exceed $47 billion this year, an all time high, as nations in the region pursue development projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the next decade. But megaprojects in the Arab world will mean little to U.S. exporters if America’s exporters are unable to meet the standards and specifications of the Arab nations.

With this in mind, NUSACC is positioned to play a key role in promoting standards cooperation between the United States and the Arab world. In partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), NUSACC is uniquely qualified to design sustainable, culturally appropriate, demand-driven, project-based Technical Assistance Programs in the Arab world for the following reasons:

Experience with Standards & Conformity Assessment – No other entity in America has had as much experience in the Arab world with product standards and conformity assessment. The Chamber has long-standing relationships at three levels: with the relevant ministers, who are responsible for the overall trade and investment relationship with the United States; with the hands-on practitioners who run the standards-setting entities throughout the region; and with the chambers of commerce which, as parastatal bodies, play a key role in ensuring that Arab companies adhere to product standards on a day-to-day basis.

Superior Expertise – The expertise of the NUSACC team, developed over a period of decades, is incomparable. David Hamod, President & CEO of NUSACC, has been involved in standards issues in the Arab world for more than 20 years, and he played a key role in establishing the Standards Cooperation Program in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Unique Status in the United States – NUSACC is the only entity in the United States with official recognition conferred by the League of Arab States and the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture. As such, NUSACC serves as the U.S. point of contact for the national chambers of commerce in the Arab world, where the Chamber is generally perceived to be a parastatal body affiliated with the U.S. Government. NUSACC has also had a close working relationship with the American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) in the region for the past two decades.

Bridge to America’s Private Sector – NUSACC is widely regarded as the voice of American business in the Arab world. Its membership includes many Fortune 500 companies, as well as thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). NUSACC has close working relationships with a wide range of U.S. trade and professional associations, as well as chambers of commerce throughout the United States. The Chamber provides numerous services designed to generate business for its members, including commercial certifications, which NUSACC offers for the vast majority of U.S. exporters to the Arab world.

Complementing the SDOs – NUSACC has good working relationships with the private sector Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) in the United States. Because the Chamber is not in the business of setting product standards, it is not in competition with any SDOs. Rather, NUSACC, with its broad network of relationships in the region, is uniquely positioned to assist U.S. Standards Development Organizations that want to add value to their American member companies looking to do business in the Middle East.

Excellent Relations with the U.S. Government – NUSACC is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization that serves as a resource to the executive and legislative Branches of the U.S. Government. The Chamber has maintained a close working relationship over the past four decades with the U.S. Department of Commerce, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the Bureau of Standards). NUSACC also has close ties to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. For example, the Chamber routinely organizes business and government delegation visits to Capitol Hill. NUSACC is recognized as a strong proponent of free trade and is the only business entity in the United States that has testified before Congress on the three most recent Free Trade Agreements between the United States and the Arab world (Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman).

NUSACC standards workshops focus on specific industries, including but not limited to:

  • Automotive Industry
  • Construction (Building Code) Industry
  • Cosmetic Industry
  • Electrical Equipment Industry
  • Energy Conservation & Green Industry
  • Food Processing Industry
  • Heavy Equipment Industry
  • Home appliances Industry
  • Information & Telecommunication Industry
  • Packaging Industry
  • Power Generation Industry
  • Textile Industry
  • Toys Industry
  • Water (equipment, purification, pipes) Industry

For additional information on NUSACC’s standards programs, please call Nazha Benchaln, Director for Trade Servces, at +1 (202) 289-5920.