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Metrology for the Americas: OAS Nations Seek to Improve Quality, Standards and Trade Through Collaboration

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced that all 34 nations of the Organization of American States have officially agreed to participate in the Interamerican Metrology System (abbreviated SIM for the Spanish translation, System Interamericana de Metrologia), a recently reestablished organization seeking to harmonize measurement standards among its members. The original SIM has been dormant since the 1970s and did not encompass all of the Western Hemisphere nations.

The rebirth of the SIM with 100-percent participation by OAS nations marks the first successful interamerican effort toward realizing two major goals set forth at the "Summit of the Americas" held in December 1994—increasing cooperation in science and technology within the Americas, and promoting prosperity and free trade by eliminating technical trade barriers.

NIST—in cooperation with the OAS, U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the National Science Foundation and the metrology laboratories of the North American Free Trade Agreement partners—revived the SIM through a series of workshops, seminars and summits over the past six years. The reactivated SIM will seek to develop a strong interamerican infrastructure that uses metrology and quality to enhance trade and commerce. Members focus on improving their national measurement and standards activities, and then harmonizing these activities with each other and the SIM as a whole.

The SIM carries out its mission by:

  • fostering the development of standards and standard reference materials acceptable throughout the Americas;
  • establishing a series of regional workshops (dealing with issues such as quality, competitiveness, industrial modernization and sustainable development);
  • training advanced staff of its member nations in specialized metrology technology (including areas such as reference materials, calibrations, measurement techniques and quality testing); and
  • working to establish a true interamerican metrology system through international agreements (such as the collaborative program between the United States—represented by NIST—and Chile to improve techniques for analyzing environmental samples and advanced materials).

The SIM is divided into five regional metrology organizations: NORAMET, North American nations; CAMET, Central American nations; ANDIMET, Northern South American nations; SURAMET, Southern South American nations; and CARIMET, Caribbean Island nations (see attached chart). Each region selects representatives to the SIM General Council, as well as to SIM committees on technical metrology and professional development. A council president is elected for a two-year term; the current president is Jaime Gonz les Basurto of Mexico.

Starting this summer, NIST will lead a series of intercomparison projects to evaluate the measurement capabilities, and move the SIM members toward mutually recognized standards.

For more information on the SIM, contact Stephen B. Carpenter, Office of International and Academic Affairs, A505 Administration Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4119, fax: (301) 975-3530, e-mail: carp [at] micf.nist.gov (via Internet).

Released April 20, 1995, Updated January 8, 2018