WTO: 2014 NEWS ITEMS

TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE: FORMAL MEETING


NOTE:
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.

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MINUTES:

The committee, which oversees the implementation of the TBT Agreement once again heard a large number of concerns: 51 (see below). Environment and health continued to feature heavily in the discussions, the topics ranging from sustainability criteria for biofuels to tobacco products, food and alcohol labelling, genetically modified organisms and medical devices.

Much of the discussion on specific trade concerns is based on information that members share with each other through notifications of their technical requirements for goods sold on their markets.

 

Standards and good regulatory practices

WTO members agreed in November 2012 to hold regular “thematic sessions” focusing on cross-cutting issues to help prevent trade concerns from arising between members.

In this meeting, members moved forward on developing a list of voluntary principles and mechanisms that represent best practices in developing and applying regulations. This list seeks to guide governments when setting, adopting and applying product requirements, such as for labelling and certification, so that measures avoid disrupting trade unnecessarily.

The committee heard examples of good practices in developing and applying regulations. Members heard about Canada's new "one-for-one" rule, which requires departments and agencies to remove an old regulation whenever a new regulation is introduced; Chinese Taipei's approach to public consultation to reduce burdens on business and encourage direct citizen participation; the European Union's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme to ensure the regular maintenance of regulations; and Mexico's new process to improve regulations through deregulation, simplifying regulation, and identifying regulatory gaps. The World Bank explained that countries perform "regulatory impact assessments" (RIAs) in different ways, with variations in the type of regulations considered, the kinds of impacts analysed, and the methodology used.

The committee also discussed how WTO members and other international organizations are making standards support trade, including further rationalizing the distribution of responsibilities between standards development agencies (Malaysia); legislating on essential product requirements and using standards to support the policy objective under the "new approach" (the European Union); a proposed revision of a policy on the use of voluntary consensus standards in federal regulation and procurement (the United States), increasing the availability of quality tools and creating a legal framework to coordinate the use of standards (Peru). The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and International Trade Centre (ITC) shared their efforts to raise awareness on voluntary standards that promote sustainable products. ITC presented its online tool that helps producers and exporters to access information and requirements of specific voluntary sustainability standards.

 

Specific trade concerns

Members discussed 51 specific trade concerns, including 16 new issues. They covered regulations on topics such as alcoholic drinks, tobacco products packaging, fuel used for transport, steel products, confectionary, chemical substances including the EU’s Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH), labelling and certification of food products, pneumatic tyres, solar panels, telecommunications, cosmetics, medical instruments, and toy safety.

(A few details are provided here and a full list of trade concerns raised is set out below. More details can be found on the TBT Information Management System.)

 

Ecuador’s various measures (7 new)

Nine specific trade concerns were directed at Ecuador, seven of which were being raised for the first time. The concerns were raised by 11 members with various regulations covering food labelling and certification, cosmetics, motor vehicle safety, ceramic tiles, alcoholic beverages and confectionary products. A number of the concerns pertained to Ecuador's recent use of the emergency notification procedures. These allow members to omit some steps (including short-cutting the 60-day comment period and 6-month transition period prior to entry into force) in the development of a regulation.

Ecuador explained that it is in the process of a broad-based regulatory review, initiated in 2013, to ensure a high-quality regulatory framework. As a result of this process, numerous measures or amendments to measures are being notified for transparency purposes.  At the meeting, Ecuador reported that revisions had been made or were under consideration in order to address some of the issues raised by members, such as giving importers the option to present a self-declaration of conformity issued by the manufacturer himself.

 

France – Recycling Triman Mark (new)

"Draft Decree on a common set of symbols informing the consumer about recyclable products subject to a system of extended producer responsibility associated with waste sorting instructions" (new)

The decree will require exporters of household packaging, graphic papers, textiles, electric and electronic equipment, furnishings, etc. associated with waste sorting instructions to place a "Triman" logo on their products to inform the consumer about recyclable products.

Although members share France's objective to increase producer responsibility over recyclable products, the United States, New Zealand and Canada say the cost of implementation is disproportionally high compared to the objective, and will be burdensome especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. They asked France to provide details on the size and placement of the logo and highlighted the risk of overwhelming the consumer with information on the package since existing green recycling logos have so far been used effectively. There is also a risk of undermining the environmental objective with increased packaging size and of fragmenting the recycling schemes in the European Union, members said. They urged France to consider less trade-restrictive measures such as developing a consumer education program to foster long term habits of citizens.

The European Union (which speaks on behalf of its member States) said this provision aims to simplify waste sorting activities. It is based on a 2010 study by the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management that highlighted the need for harmonized symbols to improve consumer understanding, the European Union explained. The producer will be required to place the mark before the product enters the market but - if facing difficulties – the producer would be allowed to place it on an attached sheet or packaging. The European Union noted that the draft measure includes a mutual recognition clause among EU member States that would facilitate recognition of each other's symbols.

 

United Kingdom's measure on plain packaging of tobacco products

"Tobacco products, nicotine containing products and herbal products for smoking. Packaging for retail sale of any of the aforementioned products" (new)

United Kingdom is the second EU member State (after Ireland) to propose introducing standardized plain packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products. The proposal revived the intense debate seen in previous meetings, with a number of tobacco-growing developing countries calling the measure excessive.

This proposal follows similar initiatives from Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, discussed in previous meetings of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee and the Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council. In Australia’s case this has now become law and is subject to a set of formal legal disputes (cases DS434, DS435 and DS441).

Cuba, Malawi, Nigeria, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala urged the United Kingdom to adopt less trade-restrictive measures to achieve its objective of public health. Some members asked the United Kingdom to suspend the proposal until the on-going disputes against Australia’s plain packaging law had been concluded. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway expressed support for the proposal.

The European Union said that it was premature to discuss the measure in the Committee as it was still in a draft stage.

 

Next

The next regular TBT Committee meeting will take place on 18–19 June 2014. A thematic session focusing on transparency will be held on 17 June.

Chairperson: Mr Jingo Kikukawa (Japan)

 

New

  • Ecuador – Proposed Motor Vehicle Safety Regulatory Requirements (RTE INEN 034) G/TBT/N/ECU/32 ; G/TBT/N/ECU/32/Add.6 — concerns of Japan and Brazil
  • United States – Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedure for Commercial Refrigeration Equipment G/TBT/N/USA/865 — concerns of China
  • Ecuador – Resolution No. 116 of the Foreign Trade Committee of Ecuador of 19 November 2013 and Technical Regulation of the Ecuadorian Standardization Institute RTE INEN 022 on the labelling of processed and packaged food products G/TBT/N/ECU/19/Add.3 — concerns of Costa Rica, the United States, Guatemala, Canada, Peru and Chile
  • Russia – Federal Service for Market Regulation (FSR) - New Provisions for the Mandatory Notification of Liquor Products — concerns of Canada
  • India – Labelling Regulations for Canola Oil — concerns of Canada
  • Ecuador – Systematic failure to publish notices at an early appropriate stage — concerns of Canada, the European Union, Costa Rica, Chile, the United States and Brazil
  • China – China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) Notice 191 of 16 December 2013 – Free Sales Certificate for Imported Cosmetics — concerns of European Union, Canada and the United States
  • Ecuador – Ministry of Public Health Executive Decree (Agreement) No. 00004522 amending the Sanitary Regulations for the Labelling of Processed Foods for Human Consumption — concerns of the European Union, Brazil and the United States
  • Ecuador – Cosmetic products G/TBT/N/ECU/116 — concerns of the European Union, Chile, Korea and Brazil
  • Russia – Safety of products for children and adolescentsG/TBT/N/RUS/29 — concerns of the European Union
  • Ecuador – Certification of Ceramic Tiles II G/TBT/N/ECU/31/Add.4 — concerns of the European Union and Brazil
  • France – Recycling Triman Mark: "Draft Decree on a common set of symbols informing the consumer about recyclable products subject to a system of extended producer responsibility associated with waste sorting instructions" G/TBT/N/FRA/153 — concerns of the United States, Canada and New Zealand
  • Egypt – Turkish exports of bottled water to Egypt – concerns of Turkey
  • Colombia – Turkish exports of steel to Colombia G/TBT/N/COL/200 – concerns of Turkey
  • Ecuador – Proposed Technical Regulation PRTE INEN 103 on confectionary products G/TBT/N/ECU/123 – concerns of Panama
  • United Kingdom – Proposal to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in United Kingdom – concerns of Cuba, Malawi, Nigeria, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala; supported by Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway

 

Previously raised

  • European Union — Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) notifications G/TBT/N/EU/131— concerns of Indonesia, China, Australia and the United States
  • India — Pneumatic tyres and tubes for automotive vehicles notifications G/TBT/N/IND/20; G/TBT/N/IND/20/Add.1; G/TBT/N/IND/40; G/TBT/N/IND/40/Rev.1 — concerns of Japan, the European Union and Korea
  • India — New Telecommunications related Rules (Department of Telecommunications, No. 842-725/2005-VAS/Vol.III (3 December 2009); No. 10-15/2009-AS-III/193 (18 March 2010); and Nos. 10-15/2009-AS.III/Vol.II/(Pt.)/(25-29) (28 July 2010); Department of Telecommunications, No. 10-15/2009-AS.III/Vol.II/(Pt.)/(30) (28 July 2010) and accompanying template, “Security and Business Continuity Agreement”) — concerns of the European Union and the United States
  • Korea — KS C IEC61646:2007 Standard for Thin-film Solar Panel — concerns of the United States
  • 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) — concerns of the European Union, Japan, the United States and Brazil
  • China — Provisions for the Administration of Cosmetics Application Acceptance Cosmetics Label Instructions Regulations and Guidance for the Cosmetics Label Instructions notifications G/TBT/N/CHN/821; G/TBT/N/CHN/937 — concerns of Japan, Korea, Canada, the European Union and the United States
  • China — Testing and Certification Requirements for Medical Devices — concerns of the European Union
  • 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 notifications G/TBT/N/EEC/264; G/TBT/N/EEC/264/Add.1 — concerns of Argentina and the United States
  • Russian Federation — Draft Technical Regulation of Alcoholic Drinks Safety (published on 24 October)— concerns of the European Union and Mexico
  • Korea— Regulation and Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Materials notification G/TBT/N/KOR/305 — concerns of the United States  and Japan
  • European Union —Renewable Energy Directive (EU — RED) — concerns of Indonesia
  • Indonesia — Technical Guidelines for the Implementation of the Adoption and Supervision of Indonesian National Standards for Obligatory Toy Safety notification G/TBT/N/IDN/64 — concerns of the European Union, the United States and Japan
  • Kenya — Alcohol Labelling: The Alcoholic Drinks Control (Licensing) Regulations, 2010: Legal Notice No. 206: 2010 notification G/TBT/N/KEN/282 — concerns of the European Union
  • Brazil — Draft ANVISA Resolution on Used, Refurbished, Rented and Lent Medical Devices — concerns of the European Union
  • India — Food Safety and Standards Regulation — Food labelling requirements notifications G/TBT/N/IND/34; G/TBT/N/IND/43; G/TBT/N/IND/46; G/SPS/N/IND/69 — concerns of the European Union, the United States and Japan
  • European Union – Tobacco products, nicotine containing products and herbal products for smoking. Packaging for retail sale of any of the aforementioned products notification G/TBT/N/EU/88 — concerns of Malawi, Nigeria, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ukraine and Guatemala; supported by Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Canada
  • Chile — Proposed amendment to the Food Health Regulations, Supreme Decree No. 977/96 notifications G/TBT/N/CHL/219; G/TBT/N/CHL/219/Add.1; G/TBT/N/CHL/221 — concerns of the United States, the European Union, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Guatemala and Brazil
  • India — Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012 notifications G/TBT/N/IND/44 ; G/TBT/IND/44/Add.1; G/TBT/N/IND/44/Add.2; G/TBT/N/IND/44/Add.3 — concerns of Japan, the European Union, the United States, Switzerland and Norway
  • New Zealand — Proposal to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in New Zealand notification G/TBT/N/NZL/62 and  G/TBT/N/NZL/62/Add.1— concerns of Cuba, Ukraine, Malawi, Nigeria, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; supported by Australia, Norway, Uruguay and Canada
  • Ireland — Proposal to introduce standardised/plain packaging of tobacco products in Ireland — concerns of Cuba, Malawi, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ukraine and Nigeria; supported by Uruguay, Australia, Norway, New Zealand and Canada
  • Peru — Act to Promote Healthy Eating Among Children and Adolescents — concerns of the European Union, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and Canada
  • Indonesia – Ministry of Trade Regulation 82/M-DAG/PER/12/2012 on imported cell phones, handheld and tablet computers notification G/TBT/N/IDN/78 — concerns of Canada, the European Union and the United States
  • Indonesia — Ministry of Health Regulation 30/2013 on the inclusion of sugar, salt and fat content information, as well as health messages on the label of processed foods notification G/TBT/N/IDN/84 — concerns of the European Union, the United States and Canada
  • European Union — Proposal for a Regulation on Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases notification G/TBT/N/EU/91 — concerns of Japan
  • European Union — Revised Proposal for the Categorization of Compounds as Endocrine Disruptors of 19 February 2013 by DG Environment — concerns of the United States
  • China — China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) EMC Enforcement Notice for medical devices of 19 December 2012 — concerns of the European Union and the United States
  • Peru — Implementing Regulations of 14 November 2012 for Moratorium on Planting Genetically Engineered Crops — concerns of the United States
  • Ecuador – Resolution establishing the "General conformity assessment framework for Ecuador" and the "Handbook of procedures to be observed prior to all stages of the customs clearance, marketing and market surveillance of manufactured, imported and marketed goods subject to Ecuadorian technical regulations notifications G/TBT/N/ECU/44; G/TBT/N/ECU/44/Add.1; G/TBT/N/ECU/44/Add.2 and G/TBT/N/ECU/44/Add.3 — concerns of the United States, the European Union and Costa Rica
  • United States – EPA Palm Oil Biofuels Regulatory Program — concerns of Indonesia
  • Turkey – Draft Communiqué on Warning Messages Placed on Containers of Alcoholic Beverages; and, Draft Regulation Amending the Regulation on Procedures and Principles Concerning Domestic and Foreign Trading of Alcohol and Alcoholic Beverages notifications G/TBT/N/TUR/42; G/TBT/N/TUR/42/Add.1 — concerns of the European Union
  • Ecuador – Resolution No. SENAE-DGN-2013-0300-RE relating to post entry control of imported alcoholic beverages — concerns of Canada and the European Union
  • Mexico – Draft Mexican Official Standard PROY-NOM-032-ENER-2013: Maximum electrical power limits for equipment and appliances requiring standby power. Test methods and labelling notifications G/TBT/N/MEX/263; G/TBT/N/MEX/263/Add.1; G/TBT/N/MEX/214 — concerns of the United States and Korea
  • Chile – Safety for Printers and Energy Efficiency for Printers — concerns of the United States
  • Russian Federation – Measure affecting import of Ukrainian confectionary products — concerns of Ukraine
  • Thailand – Draft Thai Industrial Standard for Ceramic Tiles (TIS 2508-2555) notification G/TBT/N/THA/407 — concerns of the European Union

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