Secretary William M. Daley and Republic of Korea Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy Kim Young-ho today signed an agreement that will establish a new cooperative relationship between the two nations-a relationship that will help harmonize standards and reduce redundant product testing and other technical obstacles that can impede trade.
The memorandum of understanding between the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the Commerce Department'sTechnology Administration, and the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards will pave the way for closer technical cooperation in three key areas: documentary standards, conformity assessment (the procedures required to show that products meet the standards and regulations of an export market) and measurements-all of which influence market access and flows of imports and exports.
"This memorandum of understanding will foster cooperation-in the private and public sectors of both the United States and the Republic of Korea-that will ensure that the door of commerce between our two nations stays wide open," said Daley.
America, Daley noted, was South Korea's number one trading partner as recently as 1998, when 22 percent of its imports were from and 17 percent of its exports went to the United States.
The signers of today's MOU hope that the cooperative efforts fostered will improve an already strong relationship. Among the planned activities are:
- joint or cooperative programs and projects of mutual benefit, such as visits and exchange of scientists;
- mutual cooperation in international and regional organizations on matters in the three key areas;
- freer exchange of technical data and information in the three key areas;
- organization of and participation in conferences, symposia, workshops and other joint meetings of mutual interest; and
- operation of joint training/education programs to raise competency in the three key areas.
As members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the United States and Korea have committed to creating a free and open trading system that will encompass all 21 APEC member nations by 2020.
In meetings beginning on May 10, 2000, NIST and KATS representatives will identify priorities for exchanges of technical data, training and other activities of mutual interest. Conformity assessment is expected to be a major topic of discussion. Industry groups in many nations and regions have cited duplicative or conflicting conformity assessment requirements as hindering global trade.
The United States and Korea already have taken steps to simplify these requirements. Accrediting bodies in both countries are members of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation. Established in 1992, APLAC aims to create a framework that will enable laboratory test data and inspection reports produced in one APEC nation to be accepted by all trading partners in the region.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce'sTechnology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.