Inventory of National Practices on Standards, Technical Regulations
and Conformity Assessment in the Western Hemisphere
The success of market reforms in the 1990s has dramatically increased trade in goods and
services and stimulated investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through unilateral
actions, multilateral disciplines, and bilateral and regional accords, countries of the Western
Hemisphere have moved deliberately and systematically to create conditions conducive to the
negotiation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by the year 2005.
The role of trade liberalization as a motor of growth in the Hemisphere was recognized by
the Heads of State and Government when, at the Summit of the Americas in December 1994, they
decided to establish the FTAA. At the first meeting of Trade Ministers, held in Denver in 1995,
the countries "ask[ed] the Tripartite Committee -- the Organization of American States, the
Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin American
and the Caribbean -- to provide analytical support, technical assistance, and relevant studies
within their respective areas of competence, as may be requested by the working groups."
This Inventory of National Practices on Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity
Assessment in the Western Hemisphere was prepared by the Trade Unit of the OAS for the FTAA
Working Group on Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade. It covers the national practices
of 30 countries with respect to those bodies responsible for elaborating standards and technical
regulations, assuring conformance to international and national standards, and carrying out the
functions of measurement and metrology, inspection and testing, and certification and
accreditation of products and quality systems. The Inventory is an important document
not only for the information it contains but also because it represents the first step towards
bringing about greater transparency in a highly complex but critical area to the realization of
trade promotion and liberalization in the Western Hemisphere. As such, it complements the work
ongoing within the World Trade Organization through its Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.
The Inventory also aims to help in advancing the dialogue on trade liberalization
and economic integration among participants in the FTAA process. It is hoped that the Inventory
may contribute to the success of the FTAA, as such an ambitious endeavor requires, inter
alia, the availability of comprehensive and well organized information.
It is important to acknowledge the people who have made this particular publication possible.
The members of the FTAA Working Group on Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade have supplied
the information included in the Inventory. The coordinators of the FTAA Working Group
from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - Claude Carrière (former),
and Earl Weybrecht (present coordinator) - have been instrumental in guiding the process and
in attempting to make the information in the Inventory accurate and up-to-date. Within
the OAS Trade Unit, Sherry M. Stephenson, assisted by Helvia Costa Velloso, has been the
liaison between the OAS and the FTAA Working Group on Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade,
and has assumed direct responsibility for the preparation of the Inventory.