Twenty-two top executives representing the national standards bodies of the Asia/Pacific region convened at ASTM International for a two-day Open House. The event, held September 22 and 23, was an open forum for frank and stimulating discussion regarding today's changing world of international standardization.

The countries participating in the dialogue included: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the People's Republic of China, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

The chairman of the World Trade Organization's Technical Barriers to Trade Committee, Juan Antonio Dorantes, via conference call, addressed the subject of international standards, namely standards that are transparent, coherent and impartial. A reoccurring theme during the event was the need for international standards to be inclusive as opposed to exclusive. Attendees learned firsthand that they have the opportunity and freedom to use U.S.-generated international standards while still honoring the intent of the World Trade Organization's obligations to use international standards.

Other discussion points focused on the standardization needs of developing nations, the need for flexibility within the global standards system, and support for small businesses. The guests also challenged their hosts to provide a vision for their organizations in the year 2013, further adding to the meaningful exchange. The Open House was co-sponsored by ASME International, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and ASTM International, in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

During the Open House, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Philippines' Bureau of Product Standards and ASTM International. "The influence of ASTM standards is greatly felt in the Philippines," noted Jesus L. Motoomull, director of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Product Standards, at the signing. He went on to explain that 90% of the references to ASTM standards deal with the safety of products in the Philippine market.

In his remarks to the audience, ASTM President Jim Thomas described the event as history making for ASTM International and as an opportunity to hear different viewpoints, share ideas, and to learn from each other. About his own organization, Thomas explained, "The process for the development of standards at ASTM International is unlike others in the world. Our participation is direct-no delegations, no prerequisites."