The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, reverse trade missions and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment in developing and middle-income countries. The provision of standards-related assistance has grown in importance as these countries more closely integrate into the global economy. USTDA, with its U.S. government and private sector partners, has been at the forefront of structuring foreign assistance activities designed to eliminate technical barriers to trade and to ensure that a country's regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to international commerce.
In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that are developmental priorities for the host country and that represent significant trade and commercial opportunities for U.S. industry. USTDA's standards development assistance is provided to (1) developing and middle-income country project sponsors that demonstrate a commitment to eliminating technical barriers to trade, (2) activities that can generate measurable results, and (3) project sponsors with the ability to commit local resources to help with provision of the technical, training, or other development assistance.
USTDA's standards-related foreign assistance activities have reflected a broad range of sectors including transportation, communications, health and safety, construction, and education, for example. Training, technical assistance, and other USTDA development activities are longer-term in nature and designed to catalyze favorable policy and regulatory environments. Recipients of USTDA assistance in the standards area have included host country technical agencies, policy makers, regulators, private firms, and financial institutions.
The following is a list of recent standards activities that USTDA has supported:
U.S.-China Standards and Conformity Assessment Cooperation Program – Patterned on USTDA's public-private cooperation model in the aviation sector, this $500,000 technical assistance activity will be matched by industry contributions and support up to 25 expert workshops and outreach activities in China. Activities will be designed to share U.S. and internationally accepted standards and conformity assessment practices with Chinese regulators and industry representatives as China continues to develop its standards and conformity assessment regulatory system.
Mongolia Standards Development Capacity Building – In 2007, USTDA funded a ten-day reverse trade mission for senior Mongolian representatives to visit the United States to discuss technical and policy aspects of standards, certification and conformity assessment procedures. The visit aimed to familiarize the Mongolian delegates with the U.S. market-driven strategy for the development, issuance and implementation of standards, and the role of the U.S. government and non-governmental standards associations in this process. The itinerary included stops in Washington, DC; the Philadelphia, PA area; Peoria and Chicago, IL; and Milwaukee, WI.
Europe and Eurasia
Afghanistan Building Codes Standards – A $571,458 USTDA grant to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in Afghanistan is helping to improve building codes and construction standards. The USTDA grant will fund training for key personnel in building codes and enhance the government's ability to protect its citizens from unsafe building designs and construction materials and methods. International Code Council Foundation, Inc. is providing the assistance.
Afghanistan Standards Development – A $564,748 USTDA grant to the Ministry of Commerce of Afghanistan is helping to strengthen the country’s standards and metrology law and regulations and allow for the development of enforcement and compliance mechanisms. Houston International Business Corporation is providing the assistance.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Brazil Petrobras Refinery Fire Control – USTDA provided a $630,864 technical assistance grant to assist Brazil's national oil company, Petrobras, in developing a comprehensive plan to upgrade fire control and process safety at its refineries, prepare standards for fire control installations and systems for its existing and new refinery projects, and develop a training program for refinery personnel. Petrobras recently adopted U.S. standards in several refinery safety areas as a result.
Brazil Braskem Occupational Health Standards – USTDA provided a $423,000 technical assistance grant to assist Braskem, a petrochemical company, to adopt higher standards for occupational health and hygiene at its production facilities.
Chile Customs Advance Rulings and Customs Valuation – A $283,150 technical assistance grant to the National Customs Service of Chile is helping the country to meet its obligations under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement regarding advance rulings and the application of customs valuation criteria. The technical assistance is helping Chile to draft regulations on advance rulings; establish new procedures; provide a training manual and deliver training for Chilean customs officers; and help design advance rulings and valuation databases.
Peru Digital Television Standards – In 2008, USTDA funded an reverse trade mission to support the Government of Peru's efforts to update the country’s telecommunication regulatory framework, including the adoption of a national digital satellite television (DTV) standard. The visit was designed to provide the Peruvian delegates with an opportunity to learn about the U.S. approach to telecom regulatory issues such as long distance licensing, broadband networks, Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), digital television, convergence, spectrum, allocation, and local loop unbundling.
South and Southeast Asia
Thailand Occupational Safety and Health Standards – In 2002, USTDA funded an reverse trade mission to the United States for a delegation of Thai officials responsible for the development and revision of standards for occupational safety, health, and security. Within a year after the visit, the participants drafted an Occupational Safety Health and Environment Act using information collected from site visits in the United States.
U.S. - Vietnam Standards Development Program – USTDA funded a $469,000 strategic standards development and training initiative focused on assisting the Directorate for Standards and Quality in Vietnam in implementing a transparent, open and consensus-based standards system that incorporates good regulatory practices. The USTDA assistance will provide training focused directly on the country’s compliance with World Trade Organization commitments for standards, conformity assessment procedures, and technical regulations, as well as Vietnam’s commitments under the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement.
Vietnam Standards Officials Reverse Trade Mission – USTDA provided $72,448 for a Standards Development Initiative that brought eight senior standards officials from Vietnam to the United States to study the U.S. government's role and policy in setting standards, U.S. private sector-led standards development, and conformity assessment activities.
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Health and Safety Standards – A $507,647 USTDA grant assisted the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in developing electric-sector health and safety standards and in providing hands-on technical training for NERC staff. This project is assisting Nigeria with its privatization strategy and raising the level of confidence among investors looking to enter Nigeria’s electricity market.
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