A Study in International Standards Harmonization

In 1992, CANENA (a Spanish acronym for Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations of Americas) was created as a forum to harmonize standards and promote the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers for electrotechnical products between Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

Committed to developing draft-harmonized standards for the Nations of the Americas, CANENA relies on its members from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to provide technical expertise in the harmonization process.

The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) proved to be the catalyst for rallying industry in these three countries to collaborate in the development of harmonized standards, standards that would benefit people and business.

Harmonized standards can provide an enhanced level of safety and performance by seeking broader stakeholder input across all participating countries, while increasing opportunities for trade. However, standardization would not be possible without effective communication. The CANENA forum allows for the sharing of information and ideas to develop draft-harmonized standards. In addition to CANENA members, staff from the Standards Development Organizations participate on Technical Harmonization Committees and follow existing SDO procedures for harmonizing standards. These seed documents are then submitted to the participating Standards Development Organizations within each country for review and approval by their respective committees.

The formal, consensus-based review and approval process followed by each SDO, ensures balanced stakeholder input with respect to the safety and performance requirements in harmonized standards. In this process, interested parties such as regulators, manufacturers, consumers and users, provide input into the standards harmonization process.

Currently, there are over 40 active CANENA Technical Harmonization Committees. Their role is to help facilitate the development of harmonized seed documents for consideration by each country and its participating SDO. Each SDO follows its own individual review and approval processes, and then mutually agrees on a common publication date for the harmonized standard. The participating SDOs also have procedures outlining a commitment to revisions of harmonized standards, to ensure that a harmonized standard is effectively maintained once published.

For example, in August 2000, participating SDOs in Canada, U.S. and Mexico published the first harmonized tri-national harmonized series of standards in the electrical sector, CSA C22.2 No. 248.1 – 248.16 (Low-Voltage Fuses). Under the auspices of CANENA, this tri-national standard was recognized in all three countries while demonstrating the dedication of the SDO’s in a cooperative process.

In response to the needs of a global marketplace, many harmonized standards have been developed, and there are increasing efforts by stakeholders to review existing international standards for adoption as National Standards of Canada wherever the opportunities are found to exist. In the harmonization process, national differences are developed if deemed necessary, and are based on essential differences such as technical infrastructures, legal and regulatory requirements (e.g., national installation codes) or climatic conditions. To date, CSA has adopted over 250 IEC Standards (International Electrotechnical Commission), covering products such as household appliances, tools, information technology and electro-medical equipment.

CSA, UL and ANCE will continue to support the development of harmonized standards and has plans to publish more tri-national standards, primarily in the industrial and wiring product areas of electrical standards.

Harmonizing Energy Efficiency Standards

During the 1980s, CSA developed approximately 30 Performance and Energy Efficiency Standards covering a wide variety of commercial, industrial and residential products, including major household appliances such as clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, and ranges.

This initiative was driven by concerns of rising energy costs, the environment, and as support for government regulatory programs. Throughout the development of these standards, product manufacturers continually rose to the challenge through upgrades and technological improvements to their products.

By the 1990s, it was realized that the generation of electrical energy was a contributor to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions linked to global warming. Concerns with GHG emissions have led to Canadian provincial and federal energy efficiency regulations, which reference certain harmonized energy efficiency standards. Steps to mandate energy efficiency standards have also been taken in the U.S. and Mexico, and the three countries are working together toward harmonizing EEV standards across North America. A North American Working Group has recently been established to consider the issues surrounding EEV harmonization.

Today more than 60 CSA standards have been developed in electrical efficiency, including renewable energy product standards such as solar power. Since then, the average electricity usage per household per year in Canada and the rest of North America has been steadily declining.

The CANENA forum, continues to support the harmonization of standards, the promotion of safety, and the continued fostering of cooperative relationships among SDOs. CSA envisions continued involvement in the CANENA forum as it promotes the development of regionally harmonized standards within the Nations of the Americas.

For more information on CANENA, you can visit the CANENA area of the CSA Website athttp://canena.csa.ca, or contact Suzanne Alfano, Program Manager – CANENA, CSA, by phone at (416) 747-2645 or you may contact via email atsuzanne.alfano@csa.ca.

CSA Group
The CSA Group, is a not-for-profit standards organization which develops standards in 57 areas. CSA publishes standards in print and electronic form and provides training and advisory services.