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Global Standardization and Harmonization

"Harmonization" is the name given to the effort by industry to replace the variety of product standards and other regulatory policies adopted by nations in favor of uniform global standards. The harmonization effort gained a significant boost with the approval of several new international agreements, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which established the World Trade Organization (WTO). These trade agreements have also established an ever-increasing number of committees and working groups to implement the harmonization mandate. Unfortunately, most of these working groups are industry dominated, do not provide an opportunity for input by interested individuals or potentially-affected communities, and generally conduct their operations behind closed doors. Yet, under current trade rules, these standard-setting processes can directly affect our national, state and local policies.

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