WTO Roadmap to Reducing Barriers to Trade Launched

IAS Prelims 2023

WTO members achieved a breakthrough in a meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) by agreeing on a list of recommendations that aim at reducing obstacles to trade and improving implementation of the WTO’s TBT Agreement.

Members also discussed 62 specific trade concerns at the committee meeting, including eight new concerns. In addition, the committee welcomed a new “best practices” guide for national TBT Enquiry Points.

WTO members agreed on almost 30 recommendations that will improve the way members deal with standards, regulations and trade in the TBT committee.

Every three years, WTO members evaluate how they are applying the TBT Agreement. The review process started in November 2017 and was driven by members’ proposals for new work relating to specific topics addressed by the committee.

The recommendations approved by members cover the following areas:

Transparency: notifying final TBT regulations when adopted and making it easier to access them online;
improving access to national websites that make available all adopted final regulations;
notifying impact assessments conducted as part of regulatory processes;
improving the quality of information in notifications such as the products affected, relevant documents, and international standards used as a basis for the regulations;
enhancing coordination between regulators and TBT enquiry points, including through ePing
Testing, inspection and certification: work on guidelines to help regulators when choosing and designing conformity assessment procedures;
find better ways to avoid duplicating procedures or restricting trade in the area of conformity assessment.
Standards: Members agreed to hold a workshop on the role of gender in the development of standards. They also agreed to discuss best practices on incorporating standards by reference in regulation, taking account of existing guidelines and policy considerations.
Marking and labelling: Members agreed to discuss how to facilitate compliance with marking and labelling requirements for products.
Technical assistance: Members agreed to explore the feasibility of either expanding the present Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to encompass measures covered by the TBT Agreement, or setting up a separate and dedicated TBT development facility
Organizing debates in the committee: Members agreed to apply new procedures for raising specific trade concerns (STCs), on a trial basis, in order to give members more time to engage with each other and domestic stakeholders in advance of meetings