SA to host ISO assembly

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

South Africa will host a total 114 National Standards Bodies (NSBs) when they gather at the 42nd General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) set to get underway next week.

The influence of standards on global economic trade relations will be under discussion at the assembly which kicks off in Cape Town next Monday. 

The weeklong assembly will see 600 people from around the world discussing various standards related issues.

Speaking ahead of the assembly, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Garth Strachan said the standards development process is critical for efficient economies.

“The standards development process is critical for efficient economies and every country that interacts on a global scale needs to be active in standards setting bodies and forums, where the development of standards can influence the nature of trade and impact the use of resources,” said Strachan on Wednesday.

Strachan said while standards promote understanding they can create unnecessary barriers to trade.

“While standards promote understanding, interoperability and sets requirements for interactions for all levels of trade, it can also create unnecessary barriers to trade. Being an active member at standards setting platforms creates opportunities to ensure that technical specifications do not inhibit trade, discriminate against communities and restricts access to trade,” he said.

The acting CEO said South Africa as a mineral-rich and biodiverse country must ensure that resources and communities are protected, and that global standards do not restrict access to trade in international markets.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 promulgated the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement to ensure that technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

The agreement encourages all WTO members to base their trade on international standards, as a means to facilitate trade. 

The SABS plays an important role in international standardisation. In addition to being the enquiry point for the WTO/TBT agreement, SABS participates in various councils and committees in the following organisations:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO),
  • African Organization for Standardization (ARSO),
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC),
  • Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC),
  • African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC),
  • Southern African Development Community Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN).

The assembly will conclude on 20 September. The SABS is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). –