What are the differences between countries using international standards?
For decades, the United States, Western Europe and Japan have led international standard development. Representatives of these countries chaired most international standards committees and led standard making through agenda-setting and the know-how of national companies and scientific institutions. Representatives from other countries also participated in standards committees but chaired only a few technical committees. Standards takers are those countries that adopt standards but do not participate in developing those standards.
From time to time, we hear complaints from SMEs, especially in developing and emerging countries, about the costs of acquiring technical standards. This is especially true for the international standards of ISO and IEC or their national adaptations.
We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation that will radically change the way we live, work and interact with each other. This transformation began before COVID-19 but has accelerated through the pandemic. Klaus Schwab, the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, speaks in this context of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which will be in its scale, scope and complexity a transformation, unlike anything humanity has ever experienced. Although we do not know yet precisely how it will unfold, the expected changes must be integrated comprehensively and inclusively (Schwab 2017).