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Marketing Consultancy Division (MCD)
Meeting the Technical
Requirements of World Markets
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MEETING THE TECHNICAL
REQUIREMENTS OF WORLD MARKETS
Country Standards, Specifications & Codes
RELATED or PERIPHERAL BARRIERS
OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER
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.
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.
RELATED or PERIPHERAL BARRIERS
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.
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
Units 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.
OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER
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
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.
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,
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.
Rev Méd Chile 2005; 133: 969-976 ARTÍCULO DE REVISIÓN Terapias emergentes en artritis reumatoide Juan C Aguillón G1,a, Andrea Cruzat C1,b, Juan Contreras-Levicoy1,b, Andrés Dotte G1,b, Bárbara Pesce R1,c, Octavio Aravena M1,c, Lorena Salazar A1,d, Diego Catalán M1,d, Paula Abello C1,e, Adam Aguirre D1,f, Carolina Llanos M1,2,g, Miguel Cuchacovich T2. Emergent therapies forrheum
Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelinesfor the Diagnosis and Treatment of AsymptomaticBacteriuria in Adults Lindsay E. Nicolle,1 Suzanne Bradley,2 Richard Colgan,3 James C. Rice,4 Anthony Schaeffer,5 and Thomas M. Hooton6 1University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 2University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; 3University of Maryland, Baltimore; 4University of Texas,Galveston; 5Northwestern Univ