NIST Workshops Provide Forum for Open Discussions in Support of U.S.-Arab Trade and Exports
by GSI Staff March 24, 2011
Workshops on GCC Progress Toward Creating a Single Market - Focus on Electrical Safety, Product Safety, and Toys
Over 100 industry and government officials participated at meetings and workshops with senior officials from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)* GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) during the week of March 21, 2011. NIST's Standards in Trade (SIT) program, part of the Standards Services Group, organized and hosted senior officials from the GSO, in cooperation with several USG agencies and private sector partners and sponsors. The workshops provided an open and timely forum for the GSO leadership to educate U.S. business leaders and government officials on the new Regulatory System and Regional Conformity Assessment Scheme (RCAS) for the GCC single market; the GCC Product Safety Directive, the GCC Low Voltage Directive; and the GCC Toy Directive.
A two-day workshop was held on March 21-22, and it included a general session on regulation, standards, and conformity assessment in the GCC and a session on product safety and low voltage devices. Many U.S. industry associations were represented and several presented information to the GSO on their areas of interest. On March 24, a workshop and webinar held in cooperation with the Toy Industry Association focused on the regulation of toys. The webinar was recorded and is available on DVD from email@example.com, upon request .
Throughout the week the GSO delegation met with several federal agencies including NIST, USTR, ITA, CPSC, OSHA, FHWA and NHTSA, as well as with the American National Standards Institute.
Comments from U.S. industry stakeholders were overwhelmingly positive in a survey following the workshop:
“Provided useful and timely information that is of practical use.”
“This was a great opportunity for heads up before new standards are implemented.”
“The members of the GCC were most prepared and gave great content in their presentations. The industry
presentations captured the situation in the U.S. very well. Excellent dialogue.”
U.S. exports to the Arab world are expected to reach $117 billion by 2013, according to a recent report from the National U.S.- Arab Chamber of Commerce. The markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations are responsible for more than 70 percent of these exports. Potential plans for further engagement with the GSO are currently under consideration by industry and U.S. government personnel.
- The GCC and its Member States are working towards developing a harmonized unified regional system designed to streamline the commercial activities of the GCC members with each other and other countries and regions. This new system is based on the EU New & Global Approach. The main elements include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Establish a single accreditation body for all GCC members;
- Coordinate among GCC members in relation to metrology and approve a unified system of legal metrology regulations for all Member States;
- Transform technical standards into technical regulations (mandatory technical regulations based on essential requirements include technical standards that are voluntary);
- Use of notified bodies;
- Create of a single GCC conformity mark;
- Establish a unified regulatory regime for GCC market surveillance; and
- Adopt a unified law of product liability for all member states.
Several horizontal regulations, those that are applied to all products, have already been approved including marking, general product safety, conformity assessment modules, and notified body selection and notification. Regulations on market surveillance and product liability are still in process. Vertical regulations, which each address a certain category of products, have been approved for toys and low voltage devices, and additional directives are currently under development.
Currently, general information on conformity assessment procedures, marking, notified bodies and the Toy Directive are available in English on the GSO website. Other documents have been translated as well. These are not official GSO documents, but are available for your information. Please click here.
*GCC Member States include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), The Kingdom of Bahrain, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Sultanate of Oman, The State of Qatar, and The State of Kuwait.