TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE
DDG Paugam cited a recent WTO analysis that quantifies the commercial and economic value of work in the TBT Committee, in particular discussion of so called “specific trade concerns” that address WTO members' proposed or adopted regulatory measures. He noted: “Trade concerns raised at the Committee over the years cover an average of USD 2.4 trillion worth of imports per year.” This has helped prevent lengthy and costly dispute settlement cases and allowed regulations to be adapted before they enter into force.
Highlighting the work of the Committee in the area of climate change, DDG Paugam said: “Trade concerns related to climate change currently represent on average 24% of the measures put on the Committee’s agenda over the past three years. This means that we are discussing issues at the core of the net-zero transition, such as the carbon footprint of solar panels or batteries for electric vehicles.”
He noted that the digital economy is another area of growing importance and that members have engaged in discussions on issues such as cyber security and artificial intelligence in the TBT Committee.
In the context of broader WTO reform discussions, DDG Paugam invited participants to draw lessons from what is working well in the TBT Committee, namely the development of “soft rules”, promoting transparency, and innovative capacity building.
His full speech is available here.