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Published

January 20, 2022

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The Chamber works to advance standards policy that supports open and competitive markets where U.S. companies can compete fairly and win. We believe global standards development led by the private sector is the best way to promote common, technically sound approaches that deliver on technology solutions and U.S. policy objectives. Such standards should be voluntary, open, transparent, globally recognized, consensus-based, and technology-neutral. The U.S. government has long been the global champion for this approach to international standardization, and it should continue its strong support for U.S. public and private-sector participation in international standards development organizations (SDOs).

In contrast, state-directed and country-specific standards or approaches—including those embraced by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)[1]—are disruptive to the inherently global nature of many new emerging digital technologies, as they create separately controlled spheres of influence that slow down market growth and impede cooperative efforts to improve global infrastructure, products, and services. As China continues to shift toward a more nuanced approach to standards[2] that prioritizes the development of intellectual property and emphasizes qualitative innovation over mere quantitative output, it is critical that the U.S. government continue to support standards development that is rules-based, transparent, and technology-neutral – an approach that builds upon the international standards principles established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement by promoting the alignment of standards across borders, facilitating trade in connected products, and stimulating innovation in industry. Ultimately, embracing this approach will be the best way to protect against anti-competitive, anti-democratic interference from governments in standards-setting bodies over the long term.

Recommended Priorities for the U.S. Government

As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) seeks to understand and mitigate the PRC's state-directed interference in international SDOs that focus on emerging technologies, we recommend that it concentrate its efforts on the following imperatives:

1.      Ensuring due process, robust intellectual property (IP) protections, and transparency in standardization bodies;

2.     Enhancing efforts to establish dedicated dialogues with private stakeholders to address concerns regarding state-directed interference in SDOs;

3.     Bolstering the participation and capacity of U.S. industry in critical standards-setting bodies and processes;

4.    Incorporating private-sector feedback into diplomatic engagement on standards-related issues and launching a standards coordination mechanism with a small group of like-minded allies;

5.     Preserving the multi-stakeholder approach to internet policy; and

6.     Clarifying the exemption of standards activities from export control rules related to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List.


[1] U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “2020 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission,” December 2020, 108-110, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/2020_Annual_Report_to_Congress.pdf.

[2] See details of China’s State Council guidance on strengthening technical standards and IPR, issued September 22, 2021: https://www.cnipa.gov.cn/art/2021/9/22/art_53_170293.html.