opening speech, Deputy Director-General Singh emphasized the economic
benefits of standardization and stressed the increasing importance of addressing
non-tariff barriers to trade in the WTO, including in the negotiating context.
The workshop was organized in four sessions: the first
session focused on the economics of standardization, while in the second session
several concrete case studies on the use of international standards were
presented. The third session addressed the issue of building capacity to fully
participate in, and benefit from, international standardizing activities, while
the fourth session focused on the identification of key challenges.
One of the key messages of the workshop was that in
times of crisis it is particularly important to ensure that standards are not
used for protectionist purposes. Standards should be seen as an opportunity as
they can increase confidence in markets and serve to boost trade. Standards are
also an important link between research, innovation and markets and an efficient
tool for the transfer of technology.
summary report, the Chairperson of the TBT
Committee, Ms Xueyan GUO, highlighted some of the challenges in standardization:
in particular, quantifying the benefits of standards remains an area where
further work is needed, as well as involving all relevant stakeholders and
ensuring an effective participation of developing countries in international
Regular meeting of the TBT Committee (18-19 March)
SPECIFIC TRADE CONCERNS
Forty-four specific trade concerns — the highest
number in a single meeting — were raised in the regular meeting of the TBT
Committee. Some members said that, given the current economic crisis, the growth
in the number of specific trade concerns brought before the Committee is
A new issue was brought to the attention of the
Committee by the United States, Australia and the European Communities. This is
about the establishment, in China, of a government-run scheme to grade the
quality of imported cotton. The countries concerned stressed, among other
things, that this type of scheme is best addressed under market-based commercial
contracts, without the interference of state authorities.
China, as the largest importer of cotton in the world, expressed concerns about
the quality of imported cotton. The representative of China also stressed that
the measure is voluntary and registration free of charge and said that quality
requirements on domestic cotton were stricter than those imposed on foreign
sourced cotton and trade in cotton had not been affected.
In January 2009, India imposed a six-month ban on
Chinese toys. This ban was replaced in March with a measure allowing imports of
Chinese toys that conform to specific standards and conformity assessment
procedures. China argues that the measure is discriminatory because the same
requirements do not apply to domestic products or to products originating from
other WTO members (for an overview of concerns expressed by China, see
G/TBT/W/304). At the meeting, the Indian delegation noted that fruitful
bilateral discussions were being held and expressed confidence that the
discussion would soon have a successful outcome.
Other specific trade concerns relevant to toys were also discussed. China
reverted to concerns about the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
affecting Chinese toy exports. As well, Malaysia, Thailand, the European
Communities and the United States reiterated concerns about a Brazilian measure
laying down requirements for toxicological test methods for toys marketed in
Discussions continued on the EC's measure on dangerous
chemical substances (G/TBT/N/EEC/212) and REACH (G/TBT/N/EEC/52, Adds. 1-5 and
Add.3/Rev.1). Several members reiterated their concerns about the complexity of
the measures and their trade impact, especially on small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs). The European Communities informed the Committee that the
Directive of dangerous chemical substances (31st ATP) had been adopted in
January 2009, and provided an update of the implementation of REACH.
Other measures related to chemicals were also discussed, such as Norway's
proposed regulation on hazardous substances (G/TBT/N/NOR/17) and Sweden's
measure on the restriction on the use of deca-BDE, a flame retardant (G/TBT/N/SWE/59).
Wines and spirits
Once again, several measures relating to alcoholic
beverages were discussed in the Committee. The European Communities raised
concerns on new requirements in Colombia for distilled spirits (G/TBT/N/COL/121)
while Mexico reiterated its concerns on a Brazilian regulation on quality
standards of ethyl alcohol and other spirits (G/TBT/N/BRA/276 and Suppl.1),
potentially affecting trade in tequila. As well, a Chinese measure on sweet wine
(G/TBT/N/CHN/197) establishing strict maximum levels of sulphur dioxide
continues to create concerns in the European Communities while the United
States, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand continue to be concerned about the EC
regulation on certain wine sector products and its provisions on traditional
terms (G/TBT/N/EEC/15, Corr.1-2 and
Other trade concerns
Several other measures were brought to the attention
of the Committee. Among these:
Mandatory certification for steel products in India
(G/TBT/N/IND/32), Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia — raised by Japan,
Republic of Korea and the European Communities;
Various measures to promote energy efficiency in the
European Communities (G/TBT/N/EEC/208,
229) — raised by
Biofuels in Colombia (G/TBT/N/COL/96/Add.2) — raised
by the EC;
Requirements to combat illegal logging in the United
States (G/TBT/N/USA/424 and
— raised by Mexico and Japan.
Both at the workshop and in the regular meeting of the
Committee, participants expressed concern about the proliferation of private
standards that could result in unnecessary barriers to trade which created
confusion in the market place. Some members were of the view that the TBT
Committee should discuss the subject, while others disagreed, saying that this
was not an issue for the TBT Committee. It was pointed out that the issue of
private standards was being addressed by the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Measures (SPS) Committee.
ANNUAL AND TRIENNIAL REVIEWS OF THE TBT AGREEMENT
The Committee adopted its Fourteenth Annual Review of
the TBT Agreement (G/TBT/25) and continued work on the Fifth Triennial Review,
which is due to be concluded in November 2009.
DATES OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Committee will take place on
25-26 June 2009.
Singh's opening remarks
> Summary report of the
> Programme of the workshop
Presentations and abstracts from the workshop
> Session 1
> Session 2
> Session 3
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