Officials from Egypt and the United States are working together to foster cooperation in standards and metrology activities in support of a major governmental effort to improve scientific and technical cooperation between the two countries. The cooperative effort can lead to increased economic development between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States.
The current activity resulted from the 1995 U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology Agreement between the government of the United States and the government of Egypt. U.S. participants from NIST included standards, measurement and calibration experts from the U.S. National Conference of Standards Laboratories, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and U.S. firms involved in quality assurance services. Egyptian representatives were from the Egyptian National Institute of Standards, the Egyptian Office of Standards and the private sector.
The cooperative activity started with the U.S.-Egypt Bilateral Workshop on Metrology, Standards and Conformity Assessment held June 9-13, 1996, in Alexandria, Egypt. According to B. Stephen Carpenter, director of the NIST Office of International and Academic Affairs, the workshop was the initial opportunity for the two nations to seek ways to exchange ideas, information, skills and techniques; and to collaborate on scientific and technological endeavors of mutual interest.
Discussions at the workshop identified five areas to be pursued by the U.S.-Egypt Joint Board under the United States and Arab Republic of Egypt Science and Technology Agreement. The following are proposed activities:
- Develop an information link through the Internet with NIST, NIS and EOS on standards, metrology, intellectual property rights and conformity assessment.
- Link NIST, NIS and Egyptian industries through NCSL and other groups to set up a measurement assurance program to be used for laboratory accreditation, using NIS Total Quality Consultancy to assist in the development and improvement of secondary and workshop type laboratories.
- Implement interactions between NIST and NIS in the areas of chemical and physical metrology under the auspices of the U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology Agreement:
- Conduct bilateral inter-comparisons in high priority areas,
- Develop high priority Certified Reference Materials and Standard Reference Materials in the following suggested initial areas: metallurgy, textiles, building materials, chemicals and the environment.
- Link national accreditation bodies in Egypt and the United States:
- Exchange information on legal requirements, procedures and other relevant documentation, and
- Provide each other with draft copies of new documentation for review and comment.
- NIST and NIS will work together to develop regional cooperation in metrology in an area covering North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East.
In addition, U.S. private-sector participants reported that an expected $100,000-$200,000 of new business in Egypt will be developed as a result of the workshop.
When approved, future projects will be conducted under the U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund of $2 million that was established to strengthen scientific and technological capabilities between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States. This is designed to support the add-on costs of the bilateral cooperation. It is not structured as a primary source of funds for domestic activities in either country.
The joint activities will be carried out on the basis of arrangements concluded directly between cooperating organizations and will be in accordance with the international obligations, national laws and regulations of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States. For example, NCSL, a nonprofit organization established 35 years ago to promote cooperative efforts for solving the common problems faced by measurement laboratories, has agreed to do a measurement assurance program in Egypt to identify that nation's needs.
Plans call for a multilateral workshop in December 1996 to include participation by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States. The thrust of this program will be to develop a regional North African and Middle Eastern cooperative effort in metrology.
For information on the bilateral and forthcoming multilateral workshops, contact the Office of International and Academic Affairs, A505 Administration Bldg., NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-3069, fax: (301) 975-3530, e-mail: OIAA@nist.gov.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.