miércoles, 25 de junio de 2008

Lessons from the Import Safety Agreements with the Chinese Government

Different points of view and visions must be taken into account
Under assignment from President Bush, I have devoted considerable time and a lot of HHS resources over the past six months to an Import Safety Working Group. I was chairman of the 12-person group which represented all the relevant parts of the U.S. government. The working groups concluded that our country has a good system of import safety, but it is inadequate for the future. In September, we laid out a strategic framework for the future. In November, we issued an implementation plan with 50 specific recommendations in 14 different categories.
Here we enumerate five of the many important conclusions we have reached during this period.
Lesson 1: The import safety problem is the natural consequence of a maturing of the global marketplace. These issues have been slowly ripening for several years now. It is a direct reflection of the profound growth in the amount of trade between nations. Our systems are not designed for the pressure they are under. We are inventing tools to deal with new problems. Scaling the old way up is an inadequate response.
Lesson 2: Collaboration is necessary within governments as well as between governments. Different countries have different systems of government and different views of import challenges and priorities. Likewise, different parts of governments see import safety with different perspectives. For example, a border protection agent views this as a law enforcement challenge. A public health official sees it as a health problem and, naturally, a trade negotiator wants to know how it will affect commerce.
Lesson 3: Different perspectives, economic systems and regulatory regimes must be bridged by common goals, international standards and interoperable systems. The standardization of cargo containers across the world is a proper metaphor. By adopting standard-sized containers, the shipping community has made it possible for cargo to be handled efficiently in any nation. There is no substitute for the hard, messy work of collaboration in developing them.
Lesson 4: Transparency is trust’s seed. In a global market, speed is life. Anything that slows the flow of goods down, including unnecessary inspections, damages competitiveness. Competitiveness and safety can co-exist only when one knows who to trust. Transparency brings trust; trust brings speed; speed wins in a global market.
Lesson 5: Continuous improvement is necessary. The agreements we signed with the Chinese are frameworks and will require continued work at many layers of government and industry. There is a Chinese saying, “A man who would move a mountain starts by moving small stones.”
Source: http://secretarysblog.hhs.gov/my_weblog/2008/01/import-safety-a.html
Aporte: Guillermo Figueroa

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