TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE

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Ninth Triennial Review

The adopted timeline lays out the schedule of discussions over the coming 12 months to determine the Committee's workplan in 2022-2024. The review process is driven by substantive proposals from members, with a view to making the TBT Agreement more effective and looking at new areas of work. Previous triennial reviews addressed issues such as transparency and improving the submission of notifications, good regulatory practices and conformity assessment procedures.

The Chair of the TBT Committee, Mr Laurence Sandral (Australia), said: “The Triennial Review process is a gift of improved efficiency that members give to themselves every three years. Having an agreed timeframe ensures we can harness the input and energy of all members in deciding together what improvements to make.”

New trade concerns

WTO members raised 24 new trade concerns through eAgenda, an online platform. The full list of the 77 concerns raised overall is available here. Discussions focused on topics ranging from cosmetics to halal feedstuff, cryptography, nutrition, chemicals and wines. Several members cited the impact of COVID-19 on their work in the area of standards and regulations, which in some cases caused delays and required additional time for manufacturers to comply.

Ensuring that manufacturers can comply with proposed environmental protection measures was a common theme among the new trade concerns.  

For instance, the Republic of Korea asked Zimbabwe to clarify the applicable standards and conformity assessment process for energy efficiency of household refrigerators and air conditioners. Zimbabwe said its standard derives from the standard used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (F2834) and that implementation may be delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

On water use, China asked the United States for clarification regarding California's appliance efficiency standards for sprinklers. The US said it will discuss China's questions with the Californian authorities.

Another energy and water efficiency concern was raised by the Republic of Korea, which asked Chile to revise its approach for assessing washing machines' environmental performance to avoid blocking efficient models from the market. Chile said it would convey Korea's comments to the responsible ministry.

Concerning chemicals, China, India the United States and Canada raised concerns with the short timeframe (by January 2021) for importers and suppliers to comply with EU reporting requirements on chemical substances in products. The EU said this was part of promoting a circular economy, supporting waste management and recycling.

Also on the circular economy, China asked France to delay new requirements for electronic and electric equipment to display a reparability index (a scoring system giving information on the ease of repairing a product), citing the lack of supporting guidance and testing methods for electronic and electrical equipment , and compliance difficulties due to COVID-19. The EU, on behalf of France, said that the checks and penalties for failure to comply will only apply from 1 January 2022, giving additional time for manufacturers to adapt.

Thematic sessions

Members held two thematic sessions on 27 October, with the aim of exchanging experiences and sharing best practices on topics related to the TBT Agreement.

The first session looked at technical assistance provided to developing countries regarding implementation of the TBT Agreement in areas such as quality infrastructure, standards, metrology, compliance and harmonization. Australia, the European Union and the United States shared examples of technical assistance and capacity building programmes they provide. The role of TBT technical assistance in supporting the response to COVID-19 and economic recovery was discussed. Programmes and presentations are available here.

The second session looked at how to facilitate compliance with mandatory marking and labelling requirements on products. The European Union and the United States presented case studies related to this topic. The EU proposed that the Committee develop recommendations or other guidance on marking and labelling to support members in implementing the TBT Agreement. The programme and presentations are available here.

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ePing – sharing information

ePing, the notification alert system, can be used to share official comments on notifications online. Watch the latest ePing tutorial on how it works. Online training sessions are being organized to assist private and public stakeholders on how to use and benefit from TBT transparency provisions.


Thematic session on technical assistance
Video: moderator's summary

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