The existence of non-harmonized standards for similar technologies in different countries or regions can contribute to so-called â€œtechnical barriers to tradeâ€. Export-minded industries have long sensed the need to agree on world standards to help rationalize the international trading process. This was the origin of the establishment of ISO.
International standardization is well established for many technologies in such diverse fields as information processing and communications, textiles, packaging, distribution of goods, energy production and utilization, shipbuilding, banking and financial services. It will continue to grow in importance for all sectors of industrial activity for the foreseeable future.
The main reasons are-
Worldwide progress in trade liberalization:
Todayâ€™s free-market economies increasingly encourage diverse sources of supply and provide opportunities for expanding for expanding markets. On the technology side, fair competition needs to be based on identifiable, clearly defined common references that are recognized from one country to the next, and from one region to the other. An industry-wide standard, internationally recognized, developed by consensus among trading partners, serves as the language of trade.
Interpenetration of sectors:
No industry in todayâ€™s world can truly claim to be completely independent of components, products, rules of application, etc., that have been developed in other sectors. Bolts are used in aviation and for agricultural machinery; welding plays a role in mechanical and nuclear engineering, and electronic data processing has penetrated all industries. Environmentally friendly products and processes, and recyclable or biodegradable packaging are pervasive concerns.
Worldwide communications systems:
The computer industry offers a good example of technology that needs quickly and progressively to be standardized at a global level. Full compatibility among open systems fosters healthy competition among producers, and offers real options to users since it is a powerful catalyst for innovation, improved productivity and cost cutting.
Global standards for emerging technologies:
Standardization programmes in completely new fields are now being developed. Such fields include advanced materials, the environment, life sciences, urbanization and construction. In the very early stages of new technology development, applications can be imagined but functional prototypes do not exist. Here, the need for standardization is in defining terminology and accumulating databases of quantitative information.
Development agencies are increasingly recognizing that a standardization infrastructure is a basic condition for the success of economic policies aimed at achieving sustainable development. Creating such an infrastructure in developing countries is essential for improving productivity, market competitiveness, and export capability.
Industry-wide standardization is a condition existing within a particular industrial sector when the large majority of products or services conform to the same standards. It results from consensus agreements reached between all economic players in that industrial sector- suppliers, users, and often governments. They agree on specifications and criteria to be applied consistently in the choice and classification of materials, the manufacture of products, and the provision of services. The aim is to facilitate trade, exchange and technology transfer through:
Enhanced product quality and reliability at a reasonable price.
Improved health, safety and environmental protection, and reduction of waste.
Greater compatibility and interoperability of goods and services.
Simplification for improved usability.
Reduction in the number of models, and thus reduction in costs.
Increased distribution efficiency, and ease of maintenance.