"Standards and tests go hand in hand and are key to the development of the global market." So say the leaders of the three principal organizations responsible for developing international technical standards in their joint World Standards Day 2002 message focussing on the theme of "One standard, one test – accepted everywhere". The message is signed by ISO President Mario Cortopassi, IEC President Sei-ichi Takayanagi and ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi.

Standards help to ensure that goods and services have the same quality wherever they are made. Based on international consensus, standards help to achieve a variety of objectives such as ensuring safety and performance, and provide a common technical foundation for producing goods, services and systems anywhere.

Once these standards are broadly accepted at the international level, tests then verify whether these standards can be reliably met over time. These tests, otherwise known as conformity assessment procedures, refer to the varied activities involved in assuring that products, processes or systems comply with regulations or voluntary standards. Together, standards and their accompanying tests act as a "common confidence-building foundation" for exchanging goods and services between buyers and sellers in the global market. Conformity assessment works as a valid means to verify claims about quality, performance, and other parameters and as appropriate mechanisms to help ensure consumer confidence.

The advantage of the "One standard, one test – accepted everywhere" is that the existence of one internationally accepted standard and one internationally accepted test helps to foster the development of a global market for goods or services. In so doing, it makes products and services acceptable in all countries.

"The combination of standards and conformity assessment serve the market by helping to lower technical barriers to trade - which results in lower manufacturing costs - and to raise the level of confidence between buyers and sellers," say the three organizations' leaders. "Relevant international conformity assessment mechanisms, standards, guides and recommendations could also help to underpin Mutual Recognition Agreements at different levels."

For international standards to make a maximum contribution to achieving the objective of facilitating trade, it is important that all countries participate in developing and adopting them. In this way the development of single standards and tests can reflect the diversity of opinion in the global market, and encourage market development without stifling innovation.

ISO, the IEC and ITU conclude by saying that "by helping to make any one part of the global trading system more efficient, the three organizations can help to make the entire market that much more efficient. Ultimately, an efficient market benefits everyone: manufacturers, consumers, governments, testing laboratories, and all other participants in the market."

World Standrds Day 2002