Standardization - a factor for foreign trade

On 7 September, at the invitation of the German Foreign Office, over 1,000 representatives from industry attended the Business Forum of the Heads of Germany's missions abroad.

Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the attendees as well as 207 ambassadors to the 9th conference, which this year focussed on Latin America. Mr Westerwelle emphasised that German products are associated with quality and reliability. "We want to raise our relations with the content to a new qualitative level. The opportunities and potential of enhanced cooperation are far from exhausted. We know, for example, that a country like Brazil is hugely committed to renewable energies", were the words of the Foreign Minister. The Federal Economics Minister, Rainer Brüderle, told German businesses they had every reason to be proud of their achievements and of the fact that order books are once more filling up, and urged them to "roll up your sleeves and get to work".
In his speech, Anton Börner, the President of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services, asked the Federal Government to assist business in dismantling non-tariff barriers to trade.

Workshop on standardization
It was only natural that a workshop held in parallel in the afternoon should deal with topics such as "Standardization as a factor for foreign trade". Representing DIN on the panel, Dr. Ulrike Bohnsack, Head of the Standardization Department, outlined how active involvement in standardization can greatly benefit companies by giving them access to markets. This was underlined by Markus Reigl, Head of Standardization and Regulation at Siemens AG, saying that the strong presence of German business in international standardization certainly paid off.

Dr. Ulrich Romer, Division Head at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, explained it was the goal of the Federal Government that international standards should be based on German know how. The German government would only become actively involved in standardization when this is absolutely necessary, as when standardization in the partner country is run by the state. One result has been the setting up of the Working Group Standardization of the German-Chinese Joint Committee of Industry and Trade. Representatives from the Economics Ministry and DIN recently held talks with the Indian standards body and consumer protection ministry in New Delhi.

Dr. Worbs, the German consul in Rio de Janeiro, gave an example of how, in Brazil, standards had almost led to companies being excluded from tendering for contracts. The Football World Cup is due to take place in Brazil in 2014, and FIFA demanded that all companies wishing to submit tenders be certified for stadiums according to a scheme based on a US American system of sustainability standards. Dr. Ulrike Bohnsack saw this as an example of how others come up to fill the gap when ISO does not get to work on topics fast enough. Despite this compulsion to be certified, a major German architectural company won a commission to build three stadiums in Brazil.

Another panel member also involved in the construction of stadiums in Brazil was Markus Deecke, consultant and Managing Director of 1Picture Sports Services GmbH. He is participating in the development of ISO 20121 „Sustainability in event management“. In Mr. Deecke's experience, "the development of International Standards is pure marketing for German businesses".