Marketing Consultancy Division (MCD) Meeting the Technical
Requirements of World Markets




Country Standards, Specifications & Codes RELATED or PERIPHERAL BARRIERS


Export Bul etin No. 9
Meeting the Technical Requirements of World Markets


The main criteria for improving export performance is to have good products to sel , at a good price and on time. But in addition to this, there are technical and other barriers to overcome. This guide outlines these, and for the uninitiated, it signposts the way ahead, to save time, and to help avoid frustration. It can, therefore, be useful to anyone whose business is sel ing in overseas markets. Exporting can be rewarding both financial y and personal y if it is successful, and there is only a single key to success, which is 'professionalism'. A thoroughly professional approach is the only way that is likely to produce sustained and continuous export success and the rewards that this brings to the company. Frequently, some companies approach export half-heartedly - this may produce short-term results, but it is much more likely to produce frustration, financial loss, and a pessimistic view of the foreign country and/or company. In the past it was not possible for some manufacturers to export to various countries because of tariffs and quotas on imports and this was particularly true for developed or industrialised nations. Tariff barriers have been eroded or were eliminated by various General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) arrangements, and the work of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Because of these factors, the exporting company has been able to consider new markets. However, it has come up against a second hurdle - general y referred to as 'technical' or 'non-tariff' barriers. The WTO and other international agencies are also tackling these technical/non-tariff barriers, but the problem is much more difficult to solve and wil take time to overcome. Basical y, technical barriers can be identified as a country's technical requirements. These occur in laws, regulations and standards, together with conformity certification schemes, which affect the design, manufacture, marking and use of products in the country concerned. Many of these technical barriers to trade have not been erected consciously to keep exports out, but are either an inherent part of the structure of the importing country, or the outcome of a historical situation. They also result from varying legal systems, and arise from a different approach to provision of goods and services in the country concerned. In the majority of cases, these barriers are not new but have existed for decades or even centuries. They have become more apparent in the last 15 or 20 years with the massive increase in trade between al countries and, hence, the associated increase in competition for This guide is an attempt to make the potential KSA Exporters aware of the technical requirements so that they can consider them early enough to ensure their products are acceptable when they final y reaches the target export market. Failure to take these requirements into consideration could result in time consuming delays lost sales, loss of profits and sometimes, even bankruptcy - to say nothing of the damage to the trading reputation of the company concerned and the
The fol owing sections identify the various types of technical requirements that the local exporting company needs to consider and which they may be required to meet when exporting to specific countries.
Country Laws & Regulations

No serious exporting company would wish to flout the laws of the country or countries to which their products are being shipped. But it is surprising how frequently assumptions are made by local companies that the legal requirements overseas wil be the same as in the KSA. This assumption needs to be dispel ed, not only in relation to laws and subsidiary regulations and requirements that stem from the laws, but also with regard to standards, approval or certification schemes and other practices. The one thing that an exporting company should expect when approaching a market overseas it is that there is a very good chance that the requirements and practices wil be different in some way from those in the domestic KSA, and that they should seek to identify these differences. Much of English Law is based on the 'Common Law' principle where custom and practice is enshrined in precedent. The way the law is to be administered can also, along with other factors, determine the style of the law. Many developed countries have a similar approach - e.g. in France and some of the southern European countries, the system is different and relies heavily on codified law more central y enforced. This is published in a wide range of Ministerial Decrees, etc, some of which can contain detailed requirements for the performance of products. In addition, this sort of system and legal responsibility for performance can be clearly vested in the manufacturer or designer, a sort of product liability requirement. This often brings in insurance companies and trade groups, who are more actively involved in the production of, and ensuring compliance Prime examples of technical requirements in legislation occur in the USA, where a local manufacturer of wooden or metal ladders looking at the USA as a possible market might decide to see if there is any US standard applicable. A search of the USA standards could identify over 30 pertinent standards, from household and industrial ladders to swimming pool and Jacob's ladders - al produced by a number of standards bodies and trade associations. The exporting company may think that compliance with these documents is sufficient, and they can then concentrate on matters such as agents, shipping, insurance, credit, and methods of payment. This thinking would be wrong, as there are many pages of requirements for wooden and metal ladders in the USA, which prescribe dimensions, materials and use, and it is mandatory that these requirements be complied with in the USA. A further complication can arise where a federal system of government is in operation, such as in Germany and again in the USA. In these systems some of the federal laws and regulations are enforced on a national basis, but a number of them al ow the state authorities to modify the federal requirements, usual y on the basis of more stringent requirements, if they wish to do so. This situation can sometimes extend down to city or town authority level. Thus, in Germany there is a model set of building regulations produced by the federal government which has been adopted and adapted by each of the local provincial governments, so that there is no single set of regulations applying to al of Germany. The situation is even worse in the USA where there are a handful of model building codes available, but state, county and town authorities are also al owed to produce their own codes. Adjacent towns or cities in the same state can have significantly differing requirements. It is perhaps worth mentioning two other matters related to the laws of the land. The first being that it is fairly common in developed or industrialised countries for third party certification of a wide range of products to be a legal requirement. Secondly, it should be remembered that the laws and regulations produced by a country are directly related to the particular problems that the country has experienced and, therefore, if Sweden has had problems with accidents to tractor drivers they may wel have regulations concerning the construction of tractor cabs. If on the other hand, it has never been a problem in Austria it is less likely that Austria wil have such requirements. The UK does not have a serious problem with earthquakes and, therefore, there are no requirements for buildings or machinery to be designed to withstand earthquake loads. But earthquakes are common in Italy, France other parts of Europe and Japan, where requirements do exist which can affect the design of buildings and some machinery in these countries. In the European Union (EU) member states, there has been an increase in legislation concerned with safety at work. Other areas that are at present under constant review are consumer protection and environmental conservation. Al these considerations are spawning laws, regulations and subsequent technical requirements in al the industrialised regions of the world quite independently of The potential KSA Exporter needs to be aware of these differences in international laws and regulations. They are based on the historical and regional requirements of the countries concerned, as wel as the legal systems that are in operation. The laws and regulations wil often contain technical requirements, which affect products and equipment. International and European standardisation solves some of these difficulties, but nevertheless problems stil remain.
Country Standards, Specifications & Codes

Standards are prepared at the request of industry or government or 'user groups', and so the committee that prepares a standard is, as far as possible, representative of the various groups that may be concerned with the product or the subject. In general, industry gets the standards it asks for and the standard wil reflect the thinking of the individual committee members and the groups they represent, as wel as the problems they have experienced in the past. In the KSA, this work is undertaken by SASO (the Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation). The establishment of 'product standards' commenced in the 20th century as industries started to develop. But international 'product standardisation' did not real y get off the ground until the 1950's and then only in limited countries and product areas. It is not difficult to see that if there were twelve different national committees considering, quite independently and at different times, a standard for a particular product, then there is a very good chance that there would be twelve standards issued/implemented that are different from each other. Although there is now much more international harmonisation activity taking place in this respect, there are stil many national standards that differ in some way from those of other countries. Additional y, for example, what is contained in a single standard in the UK may be covered by four or five standards in another country - e.g. the USA - because their standards making procedures are slightly different. If in Germany, for example, the problems in the past had been related to materials, then there would be a tendency for more attention to be given to the materials specification in the German standards. Industry frequently making the assumption that because a problem is tackled in a certain way in a particular country, then other countries must do it the same way also. This is not necessarily so, for example, a search of the French national standards authority (AFNOR), catalogue for the codes of practice for structural steelwork or reinforced concrete design would prove fruitless. It would be wrong to make the assumption that because they are not in the catalogue they do not exist. They do exist but are produced by committees independent of AFNOR. Similarly it would be quite wrong to assume that because they are not produced by AFNOR that they are in some way of less importance. Furthermore, although national standards authorities similar to SASO exist in most countries today, they are not al at the same stage of development nor do they necessarily try to cover as wide a range of activities as do the more established standards authorities. In Germany, for example, although the German national standards authority (DIN) , is a strong body there are other organisations actively producing standards and codes of practice - e.g. Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker (VDE), the Association of German Electrical Engineers, many of which are recognised as having national status whether or not they have been adopted by the national standards authority. It is estimated that in the USA, there are more than 400 organisations actively involved in the preparation of standards and similar documents in addition to the American National Standards In the developed or industrialised countries, there wil be standards related to manufactured products. These standards wil probably differ in some respects unless they have been the subjects to some type of international harmonisation (and even here differences can stil arise). In addition, these standards may not necessarily be produced or issued by the national standards authority of the Most of the developing nations also now have standards organisations, which are in general concentrating on producing standards for indigenous products. Other countries are stil influenced by previous colonial administration and education - Algeria for example works largely but not exclusively to French standards. This situation wil change, however, as has happened in Australia and New Zealand, who have moved from almost automatic adoption of British standards to writing their own standards to meet their own specific needs and conditions. Standards and the requirement to comply with them may wel becoming 'technical barriers to trade' in the developing world as export expands throughout the world and more countries develop their own export operations.
Product Certification

The requirements for product or quality certification go back hundreds of years - e.g. include, from early ages, the 'assaying' of articles made from precious metals (gold). For the purposes of this guide, the term 'certification' is used, but other terms such as 'approval' or 'listing' are also sometimes used in this context. There are basical y two types of certification methods, namely (a) 'independent third- party certification', and (b) 'self-certification'. In the former the certification of conformity to requirements is undertaken by an organisation which is independent of the manufacturer seeking certification. In the latter case, self- certification is the system where the manufacturer or takes responsibility for certifying conformity of the product with applicable criteria. Another form of certification relates to the production process, whereby the factory is certified as being capable of producing goods on a consistent basis to a particular quality standard. This type of quality management system wil apply not just to the production process but to processing of customer complaints, sources of supply etc., and is based on a consistency of procedure. In the KSA and other parts of the world, a standard for this type of certification is often known as ISO 9000 certification, but other countries have other standards and the use of quality management can be a contractual condition imposed on the supplier. In many countries it was, and stil is, a legal requirement that goods be certified and the eventual customers/buyers - individuals or corporate entities - expect to see the required certification marks on the products that they buy. Any certification system needs a standard or specification to certify against. The documents are general y provided by the sources identified in the section dealing with standards. This can lead to particular problems where new products or materials are used for which there is no current standard in existence and special There are numerous and varied certification schemes which have their particular requirements and methods of operation. Schemes exist for both components and complete assemblies and, therefore, can involve more than one approval or testing authority. Sometimes these authorities are government departments, trade associations, insurance organisations or private companies. The schemes can involve factory visits, qualification levels of staff, and usual y strict adherence to administrative procedures. Sometimes it is the manufacturer who obtains certification, while in other cases it has to be an agent or subsidiary legal y constituted in the country concerned. For some products such as boilers and pressure vessels compulsory certification or approval is almost universal requirement, either to national codes or to a widely recognised code such as that produced by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In France the final approval for a pressure vessel is given by a government department, Direction Interdepartmentale de Industrie (DII), in Germany by an independent test and inspection organisation, and in the USA by ASME which is a professional The situation for certification of electrical equipment varies widely - e.g. in the USA one of the major approval and test authorities is Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a private insurance-based organisation. For products or equipment covered by a UL scheme, approval becomes virtual y compulsory if wide penetration of the market is planned, because it is required by the insurers, the major retail outlets and frequently by the labour unions if their members are to use the equipment. In Germany, electrical equipment must comply with the 'Equipment Safety Law' and approval by VDE or to DIN standards as the usual way of demonstrating this compliance. This is not to be confused with 'CE' marking which applies to electrical equipment operating only within certain voltage limits. A frequently recurring problem in certification procedures, particularly for countries like Germany and Japan, is the detailed information required by the certification authority, which can be far more extensive than normal y experienced in other countries. With the characteristic German and Japanese approach to detail and thoroughness, the completion of questions on forms demanding technical details of a product by stating 'not known' is guaranteed to inhibit a smooth passage through the certification procedure. Similarly what may be considered by the manufacturer as minor changes to the product line after approval can lead to serious difficulties if these are not advised to and accepted in advance by the It is this question of certification requirements that most frequently surprises local companies exporting to the industrialised nations. The company is not general y expected to have independent 'third-party certification' for some countries and is not familiar with the time, work or cost involved in having its product certified. Even in the developing world there is evidence of increasing insistence or requests for certification, not so much for safety reasons, but to ensure that the products being imported are not of inferior quality and are not being 'dumped' in the country concerned.

The problems relating to laws, standards and certification requirements are probably the most widespread and obvious technical barriers to trade. There is, however, other related matters which are on the fringe of these main requirements or sometimes result from them. The fol owing sections outlines these factors, which the local Exporter needs to consider prior to exporting.
Product Liability

Exporters have been known to avoid a potential y lucrative market because of 'product liability' considerations, and this is not surprising if local manufacturers have also reacted in a similar manner - e.g. in the USA, the once 'trampoline manufacturing industry' has virtual y ceased to exist, because of the high product liability awards in some courts in the USA and the subsequent high cost of product liability insurance. The very words 'product liability' can be enough to strike terror into the heart of international producers and exporters. Product liability is most feared when it is based on the concept of 'strict liability' by the producer for injuries and damage attributable to a defective product. The criteria for judging defectiveness, however, can vary from one jurisdiction to another and it is general y based on the level of safety that the user is entitled to expect in the It is not difficult to see the role of insurance companies becoming more significant in some markets as far as 'product liability' is concerned. They wil be setting criteria for aspects of quality control and testing which may wel constitute
of Measurement
Once a major problem, the differences between national practices relating to the units of measurement, are being progressively eliminated as more and more countries adopt the harmonised metric system - e.g. countries like the USA and the UK are in a transitional stage, where some problems wil remain temporarily. Even in the long term, it should be borne in mind that not al 'metric' countries have precisely the same system. Although al national metric systems are based on the International System (SI), some non-SI units remain in practical use. One notable area of differing national practices is the calibration of pressure gauges, another is the acceptability or otherwise of dual scale markings (e.g. SI and non-SI units). Some countries permit this practice although it can be conditional on SI markings being the larger, while other countries do not al ow dual scales. The Exporter should, therefore, be aware of any legal requirements exist in the exporting country which relate to adhering to specific measurement requirements.
Patents & Trademarks

New technical regulations tend to focus the attention of research and development departments of organisations throughout the industrial world on a specific need - e.g. the spread of motor vehicle gaseous emission control legislation in many countries. This resulted in vast sums of 'R&D' (research and development) money being devoted to emission control technology and in the patenting of many different solutions to the problem, such as new exhaust system catalysts, fuel metering systems and combustion chamber configurations. A manufacturer may wel develop a technical y viable solution, but it is unlikely it wil be commercial y viable if some other company has beaten this producer to the world's patent Trademarks are not normal y associated with barriers to trade, but they can in practice present something of a problem in the context of conformity certification systems. Many such systems tie the validity of 'type certification' or 'type approval' to continuing production of the same product and the criteria may wel include retaining a particular 'trade or brand mark'. A change of 'trade or brand mark' may permit marketing through two or more major 'own brand' retail organisations, but might necessitate a formal amendment to the certification documents. These 'trade or brand marks' may also be significant in establishing the identity of the 'producer' for product liability purposes and any change may necessitate formal revision or amendment of the insurance documents.
Qualifications of Personnel

A national authority may prescribe that certain tasks can only be undertaken by persons holding certain specific qualifications - e.g. the welding of lifting appliances or pressure vessels, or the instal ation or inspection of safety related equipment. These requirements can be considered to give rise to technical barriers to trade, particularly if the required qualifications are specified on the basis of national practices, e.g. an Italian welder may not be qualified to meet German requirements.

Different languages have always presented a barrier to trade, but can be even more of a problem where technical requirements are concerned. The multi-lingual world is a reality, but many companies and individuals are stil surprised to learn that in Germany the laws and standards are written in German and that in Japan they are written in Japanese. Conversely al foreigners do not understand Arabic and the technician in the laboratory where the Exporter's product is to be certified or approved may have great difficulty in getting on with the testing if he cannot understand the information the KSA company has sent him - which can lead to delays and, thus, could lead to the eventual y loss of sales. The business of technical translation both into Arabic, English and into any another foreign language should not be tackled lightly by using staff in the general office, or even a local (general) translation agency, unless they have technical linguistic ability - e.g. where a company produces its technical specification and sales literature in several foreign languages only to find out, after it had al been printed and sent out, that they were claiming remarkable performance for their 'watery sheep' which is how the non-technical translator had dealt with 'hydraulic rams'. Similarly the French word 'tournesol' means sunflower, and a company could potential y spent some considerable time trying to locate a supply of sunflower paper 'papier de tournesol', when they should have been looking for 'litmus paper' - something total y different. How many translators know that the German word 'Stickstoff' which literal y translated means 'sticky material' is not 'adhesive' but 'nitrogen'. The list of similar 'mis-translations' in the technical field is endless and although amusing they can cause serious delays, expense and damage to the Exporter's credibility with potential customers.

This section deals with other related points that the exporting company should
consider in the light of its exports. The section ends with a checklist for the exporter, to enable him to consider al aspects relating to this subject and which are relevant when entering a new export market.
Technical Help to Exporters
One of the conditions of successful exporting is that the exporting products should comply with the technical requirements of the target markets. Often, compliance is mandatory, or wil offer a distinct commercial advantage. However, requirements are usual y complex, diverse and subject to revision, and attempting to meet them can be a costly, time consuming and risky business. SASO has considerable information to hand regarding the 'standards' of many countries around the world. This source of data should be utilised, whenever possible, to identify the technical requirements and product specifications relevant Other international 'standards institutions' around the world can also be contacted for assistance to obtain the relevant information - e.g. BSI in the UK, DIN/VDE in Germany, AFNOR/DII in France, UL/ANSI/ASME in the USA, JIS in Japan, etc. Many of these organisations have established contacts with Standards, Regulatory, Testing and Approval bodies worldwide and maintain a col ection of foreign technical/specification documents. Information on new and revised documents is received from organisations worldwide and is added to the col ection of these
Technical Publications
Many international standard's authorities produce a range of handbooks and surveys for a wide range of products and industry sectors. These publication concentrate on the general technical requirements of a particular country, as wel as specific subject matter. Some of the publications are available with an updating service. Some services include the supply of ful texts documents, updated on a regular basis, for a specific product and country. Others are surveys of principal requirements for a product by region or worldwide.
Exporters Checklist

The fol owing is provided as a basic checklist of technical requirements for a local Exporter who is seeking entry into a new export market:- a. Are there any laws and regulations (national or sub-national) directed specifical y at the type of products concerned? b. Are there any general laws and regulations that are directed at the use of the product under particular circumstances (e.g. consumer protection, worker protection, environmental protection, energy conservation, etc.)? c. Do the requirements relate to the product 'as new' or do they also relate to aspects such as instal ation, maintenance, serviceability, etc? d. Are there any national standards that relate to the product or its components for materials? What is the status of these standards e. Are these national standards based on any harmonised or international f. Are there technical requirements or specifications affecting the product, issued by organisations other than the national standards authorities, (e.g. insurance organisations, trade associations, public sector companies, g. Are the relevant texts of these requirements available and in which h. Is there any certification scheme in operation for the product and if so, what is their status (mandatory, voluntary, etc.) and recognition? Wil a foreign certification scheme be acceptable and can use be made of If a certification scheme exists, what are the details, i.e. technical requirements, sampling procedures, qualifications of personnel, factory visits, estimated costs, time involved, requirement for local agent? Are there any requirements in the country with regard to quantities and units, product liability, patent and trade marks, warranty procedures, CONCLUSION
The KSA's exporting company should now be aware of some of the technical barriers to trade that it may encounter in its export drive. The list is long but that should not put the company off exporting - the company may be one of the lucky ones where there are no technical requirements affecting its products in their target export country or the products already meets the requirements of a single Possibly, 'barriers' is a strong term to use and perhaps 'obstacles' may be a better description because these can be, and are frequently overcome - as many successful Exporters have demonstrated in the past. With the worldwide increase in occupational safety and health legislation, and consumer protection requirements, there is going to be a further proliferation of regulations, standards and certification schemes that wil affect international trade. In the long term the only solution is international or regional agreements on technical requirements, although even here it is not always going to be possible - e.g. it is a fact that Asian women are on average shorter than northern European women, and, therefore, ergonomical y the best height of working surface wil be different in each case. Although it may be practical to find a solution for kitchen units of infinitely variable heights, it is doubtful if it would be commercial y viable. It must be appreciated, however, that no matter how hard the government departments, standards bodies, and others work to standardise these requirements the problem for al products on a worldwide basis is a massive one, and it wil take many years to achieve even partial harmonisation. In the short term the alternatives are to either (a) recognise and overcome these barriers to trade, or (b) not to export at al to the industrialised nations. It is apparent that the technical requirements that are being encountered are playing, and wil continue to play, an increasingly important role in export marketing Sometimes these 'obstacles' can be difficult to overcome, but they are very rarely impossible, provided research, time, patience, dedication, and money, are made available to successful y overcome them. The best way is to tackled the markets is on an individual country basis, research the requirements thoroughly in each case and, even though in some cases the basic equipment may be the same - as a particular product going into one export country could be slight different from the same product going into another. Additional y, to stay in the marketplace, it is imperative that the Exporter continual y monitors closely any changes in legislation and technical requirements in each of the local company's target export countries.


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