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Our next witness is Dr. Frank L. LaQue, vice president, International Nickel Co.
Dr. La Que, we are very pleased to have you here. We have been looking forward to your testimony in view of this study which you have made. You may proceed as you see fit.
Dr. LAQUE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity. I have a prepared statement which I believe you have or will receive. Mr. Roush. We have it.
Dr. LAQUE. As I reviewed the bill and this is an introduction to my statement—and in view of the preceding comments I'd like to say that I didn't detect any threat to the commodities standards activities of the Department of Commerce in the bill as I read it. Since some questions were raised by Mr. Vivian and others with respect to this aspect of the matter, and if you would care to have me do so, I would supplement my prepared statement with answers to any questions you would like to ask on this point. In the meantime, I will go on with the statement as I have prepared it and please feel free to interrupt me as I go along if you wish.
Mr. Roush. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF DR. FRANK L LaQUE, VICE PRESIDENT, INTER
NATIONAL NICKEL CO.
Dr. LAQUE. My name is Frank LaQue. I am a vice president of the International Nickel Co. From May 1964, until February, 1965, I served as chairman of a panel organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce to survey standardization activities in this country and to make recommendations to deal with any deficiencies disclosed by this survey. This panel was instructed to give special attention to international standards. This was accomplished by assignment of this field to a task force headed by Mr. Alfred C. Webber of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and Mr. Charles M. Mapes of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. These gentlemen had the benefit of extended experience through participation in the activities of the principal international standardization organizations: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The former deals with a broad range of standards. The latter concerns itself primarily with electrical machinery and devices. In addition, special attention was given to standards work in Latin America through the Pan American Standards Commission, referred to by the initials of its name in Spanish as COPANT.
A review of H.R. 17424 and the supporting document has convinced me that passage of this bill will enable the Department of Commerce to serve the national interest, as disclosed by our panel study, by supporting those activities in the field of international standards that were identified as being most essential and in need of help of the type that this bill will permit.
I condensed in this one paragraph, I think, a very important statement that the bill does implement the recommendations that our panel thought were appropriate.
The national interest requires participation by technical personnel from the United States in the preparation of international standards so that these documents will be properly representative of the
state of the art and compatible with the industrial practices of the United States and its products going into international trade by export.
It must be understood that any promulgation of international standards or recommendations incompatible with U.S. products could be more restrictive than tariffs as barriers to the export of U.S. goods.
I might illustrate this by an example. In this case, the one that seems most appropriate to me didn't involve the United States, but it could have. It involved Canada where the Aluminium Co. of Canada discovered to their horror that within 2 weeks there were likely to be adopted some standards for pig aluminum which, according to their standards, according to trace elements, could form effective barriers to the export of pig aluminum. If the Canadian aluminum was not properly compatible with this standard or if the standard didn't enable the producers of Canadian aluminum to take some advantage of superiorities that they had developed it would be detrimental to their export business.
This is an illustration of how an incompatible standard can serve as an effective barrier to the export of U.S. goods.
Emerging countries without any standards development activities of their own can be expected to be reluctant to tie themselves to any single more highly developed country by selection of the standards of that country. They are likely to deal with this problem by the adoption of the international standards recommendations issued by ISO, IEC, and COPANT standards.
Our panel found that the United States of America had not partieipated in international standardization activities at a level commensurate with our interests and capabilities.
It was found that the United States participates in only 66 of the 107 ISO technical committees, holds observer status in 38 and does not participate at all in 3. The United States holds only 10 of the very important secretariats. This can be compared with 25 secretariats held by the United Kingdom, 18 held by France, and 9 by the Netherlands. There is a similar opportunity and need for expansion of U.S.A. participation in the work of IEC and COPANT.
This relatively low level of participation by the United States appeared to be due, in part, to a lack of awareness of the economic importance of international standards. It was due, also, to the difficulty in organizing adequate and continuing technical and financial participation from individual companies and associations. It has sometimes been difficult to persuade an individual company to provide personnel at company expense to represent the whole of a particular industry and the overall interests of the Nation in an international standardization effort.
This difficulty is increased by the desirability of maintaining continuity of representation by particular individuals. This interferes with distribution of the burden from one company to another over a a period of time. Provision of funds pooled through a trade association, or from sources made available by this bill, would not solve that aspect of the problem represented by the drain on the technical resources of firms that are asked to provide continuing representation,
The situation becomes even more difficult when representation by users, as well as producers, is required. All of these problems are mul
[tiplied when the need for participation in international standardizaI tion of a particular item is well in advance of any current interest in
international trade in the product. Possible developments may require immediate U.S. participation in the formulation of international standards so that they will not inhibit future trade.
It is desirable, also, that the United States maintain a cooperative posture in the international organizations by engaging in activities not immediately identifiable with U.S. interests. This will avoid any suspicion that U.S. recommendations are regularly designed to be self-serving and are provided principally with this objective rather than for the general good. Elimination of such suspicions by constructive participation on a broad scale will improve the atmosphere in which all U.S. recommendations will be received and acted upon.
The provisions of H.R. 17424 will not, of themselves, solve all these problems but they will put the U.S. Department of Commerce in a position to protect the national interest in foreign trade by appropriate technical and financial support of necessary activities in this field.
It is quite proper that the bill emphasizes the importance of the work of the private voluntary organizations devoted to the development and promulgation of standards in the United States. Voluntary standards are an integral part of our free enterprise system. Their value will be increased greatly by their more ready identification through the clearinghouse and coordination functions that this bill deals with.
The voluntary standards development organizations in the United States have been, and will continue to be, primarily responsible for the technical quality of U.S.A. standards. This technical quality of U.S.A. standards will continue to be their most attractive and most important feature as candidates for recognition as bases for international standards. Their further designation as having national status and acceptance as U.S. standards through the United States for America Standards Institute-formerly the American Standards Association-will accelerate the recognition of the inherent quality of these U.S. standards and the utilization of this quality on the broadest international scale.
It is important, therefore, that this bill provides for support of any organization contributing to the content of international standards as well as for the establishment of a clearinghouse and for support of coordination efforts.
An important byproduct of the development of standards is the educational value of their contents. Standards represent the distilled product of a tremendous amount of research and related technical effort. For example, the ready availability of such vital and immediately usable information on the compositions of materials for specific purposes and how to analyze them and measure the properties that are called for, can be of great value to technical people in emerging countries in advancing their economies and most importantly in recognizing the value of U.S.A. products that meet such standards.
In summary, I am convinced that passage of H.R. 17424 will be in the best interest of the country and will go a long way to insure that U.S.A. interests in foreign trade will be protected and advanced through proper and timely attention to voluntary national and international commercial standardization activities.
Mr. Roush. Thank you, Dr. La Que.
Mr. VIVIAN. On page 5, you indicate that you feel that the bill should provide for the support of any organization contributing to the content of international standards.
I don't dispute that. I would be happy to have a bill provide for the support of certain organizations who contribute certain information, but I am not sure that the word “any” is a pertinent phrase. Do you mean by this, "all"?
Dr. LAQUE. Let me see exactly how I worded this. I think there is perhaps a nice distinction between “any” and “all.” If you said "all," if they supported one they would have to do it for all. It wasn't intended that grants or contracts or whatever it might be would be restricted to any single organization. I think some people may have read into the bill that it was designed to support certain ones probably at the exclusion of others; but I thought the bill as I read it gave the Department a fair amount of latitude in its choice of those organizations that it deemed to be worthy of and in need of support that would advance the national interest.
Mr. VIVIAN. Let me take an example. I have been a member of IEEE, a new label for an old organization. It has a standards activity. What fraction of its standards would you anticipate should be paid for by the Government?
Dr. LAQUE. A very small amount.
Mr. VIVIAN. I recognize that such questions are difficult to handle, but someone will have to handle them someday. Since you are rather experienced in the field, I wonder if you have any feelings on what this should be.
Dr. LAQUE. I think my intuitive judgment, if you would like, is that circumstances under which such an organization would request support would be fairly rare, and that they would presumably be justified at the time in such a fashion that the Secretary of Commerce would be able to make this decision. I think it would be a small fraction of their total effort.
Mr. Vivian. I happen to find you an excellent witness and I enjoy listening to you, but I feel sure those organizations will ask for more money as time goes by, the chemical industry, the plywood industry, and an endless number. Will we eventually find ourselves contributing 30 or 40 percent of all the support?
Dr. LAQUE. No; I don't think so. I will tell you why. The present expense of the development of standards is in the research activities of the organizations who contribute or develop the technical content for standards and this is not going to be done by Government support or company research program, so that whatever fraction of the total cost is represented by the administration and staff work would be the area in which you might feel they would be asking for help. I will give you an example: In a meeting in Atlantic City last June I think there were 1,007 persons meeting with committees dealing with standards populated on the average by 10 people. That represents a tremendous amount of expense not only to the people going there, but of the research that gave them the reason for going. I would say 90 per
cent of the total cost of the development of standards in this country must be in the hands of the people who do the work and the other remaining, so I think your fears are perhaps not—I wouldn't say wellfounded—but I think they may be a little exaggerated.
Mr. VIVIAN. It seems to me it is very likely to be supported. I have seen contracts, not as a member of the Government, but as a member of private firms which have gone to both universities and private firms for the purpose of developing standards. This is an already existing practice.
Dr. LAQUE. I don't think this bill is going to add substantially to that.
Mr. VIVIAN. I would dispute that. I would hope that the bill would add to that. I think more needs to be done.
Dr. LAQUE. Maybe you are right, but if you think it should be done, you wouldn't worry about it.
Mr. Vivian. I notice you are a member of the International Nickel Co., which is a very small company, but I notice the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and American Telephone & Telegraph Co. which are fairly well founded were also on the LaQue panel.
Mr. CONABLE. Where do you get the idea International Nickel is a fairly small company?
Dr. LAQUE. We are.
Mr. VIVIAN. I was giving him the benefit of not being a big company.
They are concerned about the role of very large firms in setting standards and was there any aversion to this role on the part of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and American Telephone & Telegraph by other members of industry?
Dr. LAQUE. Not in the least. I think the selection was based not because they are representatives of large firms, but because they had the knowledge which was necessary to do the job.
Mr. VIVIAN. Those firms have extremely competent persons. Was there any objection to this?
Dr. LAQUE. I didn't detect any.
Dr. LAQUE. There is one little point I would like to try to clarify. The principal concern of this panel wasn't to act as an umpire as to who should win this skirmish between industry and Government, but to determine the best way to marshal competence wherever it might exist. This was the dominant principle around which the panel did its work, how best to utilize competence, and this is it. You frequently get into these debates about the other aspects.
Mr. Vivian. I have no other questions at this moment.
Mr. CONABLE. I would like to address my remarks to Dr. La Que, not as a representative of one of the modest nickel producers of the world, but as chairman of this panel.
You had other recommendations which are not embodied in this legislation, isn't that correct?
Dr. LAQUE. We had quite a number of them. I read this bill as merely being related to that section of our recommendations dealing with what the United States should do about the observed inadequacies in our international standardization activities. I didn't think