Standardization News

Standards Help Drive Growth in Latin America


Perú is building event sites as it prepares to host the 2019 Pan American Games. Chile has announced a number of major public transit projects in its big cities. Colombia is investing the equivalent of billions of U.S. dollars in roads, bridges, and tunnels throughout the country.

The success of these major undertakings will depend in part on the use of globally respected construction standards from standards development organizations such as ASTM International.

To draw attention to the crucial role that standards are playing in the region, a group led by ASTM Executive Vice President Katharine Morgan coordinated about 20 events and meetings on May 16-20 in Lima, Santiago, and Bogotá as part of the "Road Show América Latina."

"We knew that about 2,500 ASTM standards were already used in Perú, Chile, and Colombia, particularly in sectors like infrastructure and construction," said Morgan. "Over the course of a week, we directly contacted over 600 people from industry, associations, governments, labs, and universities who want to put even more ASTM standards to work in the region."

Morgan's group met with top executives of the national standards bodies in each country: INACAL (Perú), INN (Chile), and ICONTEC (Colombia). With memorandums of understanding already in place between ASTM and each entity, they uncovered ways to deepen cooperation in specific sectors such as concrete and steel as well as through training and exchange programs.

The largest event in each city were the industry workshops. Hundreds of people attended ASTM's three-hour events at high-profile institutions: the College of Architects of Perú, the University of Chile School of Engineering and Sciences, and the Colombian Society of Engineers.

At those events, industry leaders highlighted how ASTM standards are being actively used in a number of ways. For example:

  • In Lima, Juan Avalo, who leads several technical committees in INACAL, discussed how ASTM standards are heavily used by Perú's cement and concrete industries.
  • In Santiago, Sergio Contreras Arancibia, president of the Chilean Institute for Steel, emphasized how ASTM's steel standards help ensure quality. He also highlighted how ASTM's strength comes from its process in which anyone can participate.
  • And in Bogotá, Manuel Lascarro, who heads both the Colombian Association of Concrete Producers and the Iberoamerican Federation of Ready-Mixed Concrete, discussed the broad use of ASTM concrete standards for construction projects.

ASTM Executive VP Kathie Morgan kicks off the industry workshop with about 80 participants at the University of Chile's engineering school in Santiago on May 18. Claudia Cerda S. from Chile's standardization body (INN) and several industry leaders also spoke.


Also, at all three stops, Alex Navarro, a plastic piping expert from Canada, spoke about how ASTM standards are crucial to commerce throughout the Western Hemisphere.

"It is clear that ASTM standards are created, revised, and used in a global and inclusive way," Navarro said. "With a process that includes more than 6,000 experts outside the U.S., ASTM embodies the principles for standardization outlined by the World Trade Organization. It is no surprise that businesses and governments demand ASTM's high quality, market-relevant standards for Latin America."

Left to right: Diana Espinosa Bula, president, Colombian Society of Engineers (Sociedad Colombiana de Ingenieros) and Kathie Morgan, executive vice president, ASTM, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between SCI and ASTM on May 20.


Also during the week, Morgan signed new memorandums of cooperation with the College of Engineers of Perú (Colegio de Ingenieros del Perú) and the Colombian Society of Engineers (Sociedad Colombiana de Ingenieros). Each of these professional organizations has thousands of members.

Other highlights of the Road Show included:

  • Laboratory events that drew about 70 participants in Lima and Bogotá
  • College-student events that drew about 50 participants in Lima and Bogotá; and,
  • Morgan's opening remarks at a major conference on tall-building construction that drew about 200 participants in Bogotá.

"More than ever before, it is clear that businesses, economies, and everyday people are thriving due to the prevalence of 1,500 ASTM members and thousands of ASTM standards in Latin America," said Morgan, who will become ASTM's president in February 2017. "My commitment is to keep building on our relationships throughout the region in the years ahead."

Anyone interested in learning more about ASTM's presence in the region can contact Maria-Isabel Barrios, ASTM's Lima-based Latin American representative.

Caption for photo at top of page: ASTM staff met with amusement ride professionals in Peru on May 16. Included in the group was (seventh from left) Cecilia Chavez, who is on the board of directors of international amusement park trade association, IAPPA.

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