The leading standards development organizations of the U.S. and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their ties.
Officials of the U.S. group said it's premature to say what the memorandum will mean to the tire and rubber industries.
Essentially, the agreement requires the American Society for Testing and Materials International to provide annually its full collection of standards to the Standardization Administration of the People's Republic of China. The ASTM also will jointly sponsor standards and training programs with the SAC; allow SAC representatives to participate in ASTM committees; and invite SAC interns to come to ASTM headquarters in West Conshohocken to study the ASTM standards development process.
In return, the Chinese group will promote the use of ASTM standards in China; use ASTM's resources to develop Chinese standards, citing ASTM standards where applicable; provide a link on its Web site to ASTM's Web site; and facilitate discussions between Chinese technical experts and ASTM committees.
ASTM International President James A. Thomas and SAC Vice Administrator Zhang Yanhua signed the memorandum Aug. 20 in Beijing.
The agreement reinforces already existing ties that the ASTM has to China, according to an ASTM news release. Among other things, the SAC currently uses nearly 500 ASTM industry standards for Chinese national standards, and the ASTM has issued an annual Chinese edition of its magazine, ``Standardization News,'' since 1991.
The ASTM considers the pact a major step toward eventual harmonization of U.S. and Chinese industrial standards, according to its publicity. But it is not yet ready to quantify what the pact will mean for any specific U.S. industry.
``The agreement between ASTM and SAC is very general,'' said Daniel Smith, staff manager for ASTM Committee F09 on Tires. ``Basically, it says that ASTM is willing to provide the SAC with ASTM standards, if they're interested. We develop standards for every single industry, but the MOU is not specific to any one area.''
While the pact potentially could be a vehicle for Chinese adoption of ASTM tire and rubber standards, ``it won't translate into tire companies in the U.S. opening up new markets in China,'' Smith said. ``If anything happens, it would happen over an extended period of time.''
However, the potential benefits of the MOU are great, added Timothy Brooke, staff manager for ASTM committees D11 on Rubber and D24 on Carbon Black.