Business Korea held an interview with Nam In-suk, Administrator of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) to let readers understand its mission and roles.
Q: Please tell us about KATS.
A: KATS was established as the Analysis and Testing Laboratory under the auspices of the Mint Office in 1883, living with Korea’s industrial development. KATS introduced the Korean Industrial Standards (KS) to improve the quality competitiveness of light industry products and expand exports in the 1960s. It has promoted pan-governmental standards policies based on the Basic Act on National Standards. The current major roles are largely divided into standards, safety, and technological support.
KATS represents the government to international standardization organizations and the country’s interest by coping with international technological regulations and promoting mutual certification with other countries.
Q: What is the Administrator’s management philosophy?
A: In the future, only efficient, professional, and speedy organizations will be viable. We are campaigning for 3S (Slim, Star, and Speedy) KATS. KATS privatized large areas, and excavated functional and new areas, concentrating on them to gradually slim down and strengthen the organization. The aim of the Star Program is to cultivate international experts. To provide speedy services to our customers, we operate customer call centers and open laboratories, as well as provide technological information.
Q: Where does Korea stand in terms of international technological standards?
A: The most important aspect of international standardization activities is the suggestion of international standards and the security of chairpersons and coordinators in international standardization organizations. Korea applied for international standardization 11 times until 2000. But as of June 2009, the number soared to 280. Based on overall influence, including the ratio of chairpersons, coordinators, and contribution and participation in sectional committees, Korea may rank 12th. By areas, new growth industries such as LCD’s, semiconductors and green growth have to be strengthened. Green growth is likely to see more strengthened regulations and a large Green Ocean is expected. In fact, 68 (5.4%) out of 1,248 overseas technological regulations were related to energy efficiency.
It is important to incorporate Korean technologies into the newly emerging international standards. KATS has now made a plan, the KATS-2012 Plan, to become the world’s 7th major power in international standards by 2012 and plans to increase the current number of chairpersons and coordinators (86) to 300.
Q: What is the importance and value of technological standards in terms of national economy?
A: According to the Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN), the economic effects of standards take up 1% of gross domestic product. The British Standards Institution (BSI) reports that standards increase labor productivity by 13%, while the U.S. Department of Commerce and the OECD say that 80% of the world’s trade volume is under the influence of standardization.
International standards are primarily applied in international agreements such as FTAs and used as a means to remove trade barriers via technological regulations. For example, Wibro technology, promoted as a national R&D project and selected as an international standard in 2002, is expected to produce 5.2 trillion won of valued-added economic effects and 80,000 jobs over the next five years.
Q: Tell us about the background, expected outcomes and development of the national integrated certification.
A: Europe and Japan developed national certification marks to increase brand values and develop a testing and certification industry into a next-generation knowledge industry.
Korea had multiple certification marks, decreasing both domestic and international consumers’ awareness and increasing the cost laid upon companies to secure certification. Therefore, in August 2006, a pan-governmental division was established in KATS to introduce a national integrated certification mark. The Prime Minister, heading the National Standards Review Committee, decided to introduce the mark, which integrated the previous 13 mandatory certification marks, in August 2008. From July 1, 2009, the certification system was implemented by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy and from January 1, 2011 every governmental department will be influenced.