Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

48 Federal Communications Law Journal 487 (1996)


In an effort to reduce nontariff barriers, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) directs its three member nations to utilize product standards set by international standard-setting organizations. What were once considered "permissible standards" are now mandatory standards as Articles 904-906 of the NAFTA mandate the telecommunications industry to adopt cooperative standard-setting by these organizations as the sole method to achieve standardization. Currently, the International Telecommunications Organization and the International Organization for Standardization are the two principal cooperative standardization organizations in the telecommunications industry.
This Note argues that the NAFTA should allow members to "opt out" of the requirement for reliance on the standards developed by international standard-setting organizations. Delays in the standardization process increase costs. In addition, the political battles waged within these organizations do no always create the best standardization result. This Note argues for a two-year reliance period on international standardization organizations to achieve a result. If, at the end of that period, no standard emerges, then the NAFTA members could rely on regional standards. In addition, there must be structural reform within the international standard-setting organizations to reduce the costly delays and political problems.