New publications from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its counterpart in Brazil can help manufacturers in several industries successfully navigate the landscape of state and national product regulations and voluntary industry standards.
NIST has produced guides that distill U.S. requirements for four product classes: furniture, footwear, auto parts, and apparel and household textiles. Brazil's National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO) has published guides to the South American nation's compliance requirements for agricultural machinery, toys and petroleum products.
All seven guides can be downloaded from NIST's Global Standards Information website.
In addition to laying out relevant regulations and standards, the industry-specific guides list testing laboratories and certification bodies that manufacturers can use to demonstrate that their products comply with requirements.
U.S. and Brazilian exporters are a key audience for the publications. In addition, U.S. companies, in particular small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), that produce merchandise for domestic markets may find the NIST-prepared guides to be useful references.
For example, the guide to U.S. requirements for furniture contains details on flammability and other safety standards as well as rules for labeling. The guide also lists regulations that states have enacted to govern the sale and import of products. For example, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington have banned the use of the fire retardants PentaBDE and/or OctaBDE in products, including upholstered furniture. The furniture guide advises that brominated flame retardant limits have been proposed in several states.
The collaboration between NIST and INMETRO was carried out under the U.S.–Brazil Commercial Dialogue, a bilateral cooperative mechanism between the United States and Brazil that seeks to increase bilateral trade and investment through increased mutual understanding and best practices exchanges. These guides support the objectives of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The agreement requires WTO member nations to efficiently distribute trade-related regulatory, standards, and conformity-assessment information to other members. NIST and INMETRO serve as official WTO TBT Inquiry Points for their nations. NIST plans to publish additional sector guides in collaboration with other country inquiry points.