Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans released a report to reduce standards-related trade barriers and calling for broader collaboration across government and with U.S. industry to prevent technical obstacles that impede U.S. exports.

"Standards and related technical regulations affect an estimated 80% of world trade," Evans told an audience of industry and standards community representatives. "The recommendations in this report can improve how we tackle standards-related issues that distort trade and undermine our competitiveness."

"In the face of intensifying global competition, neither industry nor government can be complacent about standards-related issues," said Under Secretary for Technology Phil Bond. "The Secretary's Standards Initiative emphasizes best practices, provides critical education and training, expands our early warning tools, and creates greater collaboration with industry and government. Collectively, these actions will go a long way towards an effective rapid response system when standards become trade barriers."

The new report, "Standards and Competitiveness-Coordinating for Results," contains more than 50 recommendations. The report also summarizes key industry standards issues in international markets. Some of this information was gathered from more than 200 industry associations and standards organizations in 13 industry roundtables convened over the past year.

The report seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department's standards-related programs and policies. Its recommendations will help the Department identify new opportunities and better ways to work with the private sector and other U.S. government agencies on standards-related issues.

In March 2003, Evans launched the Department of Commerce Standards Initiative, an eight-point plan that responds to industry concerns that divergent standards, redundant testing and compliance procedures, and regulatory red tape are becoming one of the greatest challenges to expanding exports. The report can be accessed at In a related action, ASTM International announced that it supports the assessment on standards issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

James A. Thomas, president of ASTM International, said, "We are pleased that the level of standards awareness has been raised through this initiative. We look forward to implementation of the recommendations in the report."