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Technical standards updated to suit WTO
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-01 23:45

China is overhauling its national technical standards to make sure they comply with economic development needs and can facilitate international trade, the Standardization Administration of China said Thursday.

Li Zhonghai, director of the country's standardization watchdog, says his agency will eliminate outdated and ineffective national standards this year, while taking a hard look at how China's compulsory standards conform with the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT).

"Any Chinese national compulsory standards that fail to conform with the legitimate objectives stated in the WTO/TBT will be either abolished or revised," Li said.

The WTO/TBT says a member's technical regulations should not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil a legitimate objective, such as national security requirements, the prevention of deceptive practices, or the protection of human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment.

Nearly 14 per cent of China's 20,906 national standards are compulsory. They cover areas including products, safety, hygiene and environmental protection, Doctor Li Zhiping, an administration employee, said Thursday.

The rest of the national standards will either be removed, modified or merged with similar standards, based on how they fit in with economic development and market demands, Li Zhonghai said.

A national standard should be assessed for efficacy within five years of its issuance and revised within three years, according to the country's standardization statutes.

However, largely due to a lack of funding, many Chinese national standards have been in use for more than 10 years without being assessed or revised, according to Li Zhonghai said.

The standardization agency will wipe out the standards it deems obsolete and non-productive, and drastically cut the number of national standards, he added.

Instead of holding an annual meeting to plan standards, as in the past, the agency will solicit ideas for national standards at its www.sac.gov.cn website from this year onward.

More than 2,300 national standards, which were planned before 2000, are still being devised. Experts said that by mobilizing forces from all walks of life, the standards will be created in a more timely and practical fashion.

"We encourage businesses to actively participate in the creation of national standards, based on the principle of transparency and fairness," Li Zhonghai said.

The official reiterated that China will step up its adoption of world advanced standards, given that conforming to international standards is the key to making production more efficient and allowing international trade.

Under the WTO/TBT, international standards have to be used as a basis for the standards being developed by its members.

By the end of last year, 44.2 per cent of China's national standards had been made based on international and foreign standards, according to Director Li.

However, many of them were based on foreign standards that were issued a decade ago.

By 2006, China expects to have 70 per cent of its national standards derived from international and foreign advanced standards.

The success of the country's shipbuilding sector shows the importance of following global practices.

More than 80 per cent of its technical standards are based on international standards, which has assisted it to chalk up sales of US$8.5 billion between 2000 and 2003, according to sources with the China State Shipbuilding Corp.

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