Nation to Adopt World Standard on Environment

The international standard system for environmental protection -- ISO14000 -- will be an important instrument for China to do international trade after it enters the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Chen Yanping, secretary general of China Accreditation Committee for Environmental Management System Certification Bodies, said ISO14000 is a key solution to environmental requirements, one of the leading non-tariff barriers in international trade.

ISO14000 was set up by the International Organization for Standardization in 1996 and helps enterprises and organizations to set up and improve their environmental management systems, including the economical use of energy.

Since it was established, ISO14000 has been overwhelmingly adopted by countries all over the world, including Japan and the United States.

Tariff, which used to be the main barrier in international trade, is set to deteriorate as the WTO advocates free trade among its members.

However, more and more countries have started to set up technical barriers, among which the requirement for products to be environment-friendly is the most prominent one, Chen said.

The products of many Chinese enterprises have been rejected by other countries because of such a barrier, according to Han Wei, general secretary of the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry.

For example, many countries require a certificate for wood products, which shows that the products made do not harm the sustainable development of forests.

Han said many Chinese companies have failed to sell their wood products because they do not have such a certificate.

Chinese enterprises must try to make their products environment-friendly, he said.

ISO14000 can effectively help arouse as well as maintain environmental protection awareness among Chinese companies, said Chen.

"It is not the case that companies with the ISO14000 certificate will keep it forever," he said.

According to Chen, inspection will be held at least once a year to see if companies still qualify for the certificate.

Companies which fail in the inspection will be warned and asked to improve and some of the certificates will be suspended.

After the entry into the WTO, environmental management system certification bodies in China, should make more efforts to improve the quality of their services, Chen said.

Such bodies should try to evaluate all aspects of environmental problems that exist in companies applying for the ISO14000 certificate and they should abide strictly by the requirement of the standards during the process of certification, he said.

"If Chinese certification bodies, driven by economic interest, give certificates to unqualified companies and thus ruin their reputation, they will be defeated by their foreign counterparts," Chen warned.

Foreign certification bodies are more eager to enter the Chinese market with China's entry into the WTO, he said, adding that a German certification body as well as a Hong Kong one has been approved to do their business in the Chinese mainland.

Currently there are 21 environmental management system certification bodies in China and more than 3,400 environmental management system auditors.

More than 900 enterprises and organizations in the country have so far been granted the ISO14000 certificate and 1,000 more are applying for it, according to Chen.

(China Daily November 26, 2001)

In This Series

Jane Goodall in Beijing to Support Environmental Protection

Capital Warms to Clean Energy

WB Gives Suggestions on China's Environmental Protection

New Laws to Ensure Better Environment

ISO14000 Certificates Promoted for Firms



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