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Geneva, 20 July 2000

Developing countries call for more help in the area of technical barriers to trade

What are the specific problems facing developing countries in the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), participation in international standards setting and dealing with the multiple testing requirements for their exports, and how can the WTO and other organizations help resolve these problems?

This was the main question facing participants in the Workshop on Technical Assistance and Special and Differential Treatment in the Context of the TBT Agreement, organized by the WTO's Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade on 19-20 July 2000 at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.

Developing country participants underlined the importance of the TBT Agreement and international product standards to their trade development, and called for more technical assistance from the WTO and international standard-setting bodies.

The TBT Committee Chairman, Mr. John Adank of New Zealand, welcomed the workshop discussions as "practical and solutions-oriented". He said a number of solutions to problems identified at the workshop had been proposed, including improved coordination at the national level, participation of private industry, strengthened technical cooperation focused at individual national needs, better regional cooperation and coordination, as well as greater use of information technology tools like the Internet.

Mr. Adank thanked the European Communities, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom for funding the participation of speakers from developing countries and participants from the least-developed countries.

The workshop was divided into the following themes:

  • Implementation of the TBT Agreement, moderated by Ms. Dara Williams of Australia;
  • International standards, moderated by Mr. Martin Loken of Canada;
  • Conformity assessment procedures, moderated by Mr. Otto Th. Gence of the Netherlands; and
  • Capacity building, moderated by Mr. Mohan Kumar of India.

The results of the workshop are expected to be taken up in future meetings of the TBT Committee.

For more information:

The Chairman's summary report
Session reports of the moderators
Programme of the workshop