THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
The official record is in the meeting’s minutes.
During a meeting held on 5-7 March 2013, the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee began work on guidelines for how to regulate in a trade-friendly manner — commonly referred to as “good regulatory practice”. Agreeing on such a list would promote convergence between Members' regulatory systems, shedding more light on unneeded divergences, and bringing greater predictability and stability for business. The committee agreed to hold thematic discussions on topics of interest as part of its 6th Triennial Review (G/TBT/32), in an effort to promote greater trade cooperation. A thematic discussion on standards was also held at this meeting. Incidentally, the World Trade Report 2012 has identified these among non-tariff measures that are having an increasing impact on trade (link to the Next meetings section below).
In addition, some 41 trade measures were discussed, among them: Chile's proposed amendment to its Food Health Regulation, which would place STOP signs on fatty, salty and sugary foods; and, a proposed European Union Directive on tobacco products (Tobacco Products Directive — “TPD” G/TBT/N/EU/88) which would introduce a range of new rules on packaging, composition and sale of tobacco products.
Good Regulatory Practice and Standards
Based on substantial information exchanges, workshops and other discussions (G/TBT/W/341) over the years in the committee, and referencing work outside of the WTO (G/TBT/W/341), members took a first important step towards considering “voluntary mechanisms and related principles” of Good Regulatory Practice. This work responds to a mandate given to the committee by Members last year (G/TBT/32). China, the European Union, Indonesia and the United States all made specific presentations on Good Regulatory Practice; a summary of the discussion is contained here (G/TBT/GEN/143).
Members discussed the subject of standards, focusing on the application of the TBT Agreement's Code of Good Practice (TBT Agreement — Annex 3 ) and the use of the “six principles” of international standard setting (Annex B of G/TBT/1/Rev.10). Presentations were made by Australia, the European Union, Indonesia and the United States and Japan on various aspects of standards development. As well, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) described their efforts to develop international standards in line with WTO principles — and the UNCTAD briefed the committee on an emerging “UN Forum on Sustainability Standards”
Specific trade concerns
STOP signs on junk food
Several delegations (see below for a list of members concerned) raised new concerns regarding Chile's proposed amendments to its Food Health Regulations — which would place “STOP” signs on junk food. Pursuant to the amendment, certain categories of food would need to bear labels designated to inform and encourage consumers to avoid excessive intake which may lead to obesity and related non-communicable diseases. Moreover, products containing a critical amount of certain substances (e.g. fat, sugar, salt) would have to bear labels such as “high in salt”, “high in calories” or equivalent warnings. These warnings would need to be placed in the middle of an octagonal icon (i.e. a STOP sign) occupying no less than 20% of the main surface of the package, be located in the upper right corner, and have a size of at least 4 square centimetres. Delegations were concerned that the amendment was not based on the relevant guidelines of Codex on nutrition labelling, that it would create unnecessary obstacles to international trade, and that it had not been notified to the TBT Committee. Chile said that the measure responded to an epidemic of obesity, especially among young people, and that the measure was necessary to provide easily understandable warnings on products.
EU Tobacco Products Directive
A proposed European Union Directive on tobacco products (Tobacco Products Directive — “TPD” G/TBT/N/EU/88) was also discussed in the TBT Committee. The TPD includes a wide range of provisions related to packaging, composition and sale of tobacco products in the EU. For instance, tobacco products with characterising flavours (including menthol) and slim cigarettes (with a diameter of less than 7.5 mm) would be banned; health warnings would need to occupy at least 75% of the front and the back of the packs; and, cigarette packs would need to be of a uniform size and shape. These provisions would not apply to cigars, cigarillos, and pipe tobacco, according to the rationale that such products are predominately used by older people — instead the provisions of the existing tobacco directive would continue to apply (Directive 2001/37/EC). Concerned members (see below for a list of members concerned) were of the view that the TPD was more trade restrictive than necessary, and possibly discriminatory. For its part, the European Union said the TPD was a proportionate response to the legitimate health objectives pursued, and responded to international developments (namely, the WHO FCTC) and market trends in tobacco consumption.
The specific trade concerns discussed at the meeting
To find notifications listed here, navigate to the TBT Information Management System, choose “Regular TBT Notifications” from the side menu, then “Advanced Search”, and insert the document code into the “Symbol” field:
- India — Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012 (G/TBT/N/IND/44) — concern of Japan, United States, European Union, Korea, Switzerland, India
- United Arab Emirates — Conformity Assessment Procedure for Automobile Tyres (G/TBT/N/ARE/116) — concern of Japan, European Union
- Thailand — Import Regulation for Automobile Tyres — concern of Japan, European Union,
- Chile — Proposed amendment to the Food Health Regulations, Supreme Decree No. 977/96 (G/TBT/N/CHL/219, G/TBT/N/CHL/219/Add.1) — concern of United States, Mexico, European Union, Argentina, Guatemala, Peru, Canada, Colombia, Chile
- Korea — Proposed SAR Values or EMF exposure in cell phones (G/TBT/N/KOR/393) — concern of United States, European Union, Korea
- Russia — Alcoholic Beverages Storage Technical Conditions Order Number 59n — concern of United States
- India — Proposed Amendment to 2008 Hazardous Waste Law — concern of United States
- Ukraine — Amendment to Law on Advertising Law of Ukraine No. 3778-VI of 16 March 2012 (G/TBT/N/UKR/89) — concern of United States
- Canada — Improved food inspection model: The case for change (G/TBT/N/CAN/365) — concern of China
- Korea — Draft amendment of Ordinance and Regulation of Motor Vehicle Control Act (G/TBT/N/KOR/342) — concern of European Union
- European Union — Tobacco products, nicotine containing products and herbal products for smoking. Packaging for retail sale of any of the aforementioned products (G/TBT/N/EU/88) — concern of Dominican Republic (G/TBT/W/358), Nicaragua, Indonesia, Malawi, Philppines, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Zambia
- Supporting: Norway, New Zealand, and Australia
- Ecuador — Draft Technical Regulation of the Ecuadorian Standardization Institute (PRTE INEN) No. 080: “Labelling of footwear” (G/TBT/N/ECU/94) — concern of Colombia
- Ecuador — Labelling of articles of apparel, household linen and clothing accessories (G/TBT/N/ECU/7, G/TBT/N/ECU/7/Add.1 and G/TBT/N/ECU/7/Add.2) — concern of Colombia
- European Union — Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (G/TBT/N/EEC/52 and Adds.1-5; Add.3/Rev.1, G/TBT/N/EEC/295, G/TBT/N/EEC/295/Add.1; G/TBT/N/EEC/297; G/TBT/N/EEC/333, G/TBT/N/EEC/334, G/TBT/N/EEC/335, G/TBT/N/EEC/336; G/TBT/W/208) — concern of India, Australia
- India — Pneumatic tyres and tubes for automotive vehicles (G/TBT/N/IND/20, G/TBT/N/IND/20/Add.1; G/TBT/N/IND/40/Rev.1) — concern of Japan and the European Union
- India — Mandatory Certification for Steel Products (G/TBT/N/IND/32) — concern of the European Union, Japan and China
- United States — Hazardous Materials: Transportation of Lithium Batteries — concern of the European Union
- Turkey — Conformity Assessment Procedures for Pharmaceuticals Circular issued by the Directorate General of Drugs and Pharmacy of the Ministry of Health re “Important Announcement regarding GMP Certificates — concern of the United States
- Brazil — Health Products Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Requirements for Health Products (G/TBT/N/BRA/328) — concern of the United States and the European Union
- European Union — Directive 2004/24/EC on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (THMP) — concern of India
- India — Telecommunications Related Rules — concern of the United States, the European Union, Japan and Korea
- China — Requirements for information security products (including, inter alia, the OSCCA 1999 Regulation on commercial encryption products and its on-going revision and the Multi-Level Protection Scheme (MLPS) — concern of the United States, the European Union and Japan
- China — Provisions for the Administration of Cosmetics Application Acceptance (G/TBT/N/CHN/821)(G/TBT/N/CHN/937) — concern of Japan and the European Union
- France — Loi No. 2010-788: The National Commitment for the Environment (Grenelle 2 Law) — concern of India
- Indonesia — Technical Guidelines for the Implementation of the Adoption and Supervision of Indonesian National Standards for Obligatory Toy Safety Draft Decree of the Ministry of Industry on Mandatory Implementation of Indonesia National Standard and Technical Specification for Toys (G/TBT/N/IDN/64) — concern of the United States and the European Union
- Russian Federation — Draft on Technical Regulation of Alcohol Drinks Safety (published on 24 October) Eurasian Customs Union Technical Regulation on the Safety of Alcoholic Beverages (G/TBT/N/RUS/2) — concern of the United States, Australia, the European Union, Mexico, Argentina and New Zealand
- European Union — Directive 2009/28/EC, Renewable Energy Directive (EU — RED) — concern of Argentina
- Viet Nam — Decree regulating the Implementation of Some Articles of Food Safety Law Decree 38 implementing the Food Safety Law (G/TBT/N/VNM/22) — concern of Australia and the European Union
- European Union — Directive 2011/62/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the
- Community code relating to medicinal products for human use, as regards the prevention of the entry into the legal supply chain of falsified medicinal products — concern of India and Brazil
- China — Testing and certification requirements for medical devices — concern of the European Union, Japan, the United States and Brazil
- New Zealand — Proposal to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in New Zealand (G/TBT/N/NZL/62) — concern of the Dominican Republic (G/TBT/W/359), Nigeria, Ukraine, Cuba, Philippines, Zimbabwe
- Supporting: Norway, Canada, Kenya, Australia and Uruguay
- Israel — Warning regulations on alcoholic beverages (G/TBT/N/ISR/609) — concern of the United States and the European Union
- European Union — Draft Commission Regulation implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for directional lamps, light emitting diode lamps and related equipment (G/TBT/N/EU/34) — concern of China and Korea
- Australia — Joint governments' response to the 2010 Independent Review of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Review — concern of Korea
- Brazil — Draft ANVISA Resolution on used, refurbished, rented and lent medical devices (G/TBT/N/BRA/440) — concern of the European Union
- Korea — KS C IEC61646:2007 Standard for Thin-film Solar Panels — concern of the United States and the European Union
- Colombia — Commercial Truck Diesel Emissions Regulation Proposed modifications to Resolutions 910 of 2008 and 2604 of 2009 on Diesel Emissions (G/TBT/N/COL/185, G/TBT/N/COL/186) — concern of Japan, the United States and Mexico
- Peru — Draft Supreme Decree approving the regulations governing the labelling of genetically modified foods Biotech labelling (G/TBT/N/PER/37) — concern of the United States, Chile and Colombia
- European Union — Issue with respect of honey containing pollen from genetically modified maize MON810 — concern of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Uruguay, the United States and Mexico
- European Union — Draft Implementing Regulations amending Regulation (EC) No. 607/2009 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms, labelling and presentation of certain wine sector products Traditional Terms for Wine (G/TBT/N/EEC/264) — concern of the United States and Argentina
- China — Draft Mobile Smart Terminal Administrative Measure, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), 10 April 2012 Strengthening the Administration of Network Access of Smart Mobile Terminals (G/TBT/N/CHN/928) — concern of Japan and the United States
(to be confirmed)
18-20 June 2013 — regular committee meeting, Seventh Special Meeting on Information Exchange, and thematic discussion on good regulatory practice
29–31 October 2013 — regular committee meeting, and thematic discussions on conformity assessment procedures and special and differential treatment
Chairperson of the TBT Committee for 2013
Mr Salim Lahjomri (Morocco)
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