digital technologies and trade
Technical barriers to trade (TBT)
Standards and regulations for digital and related technologies are commonly discussed in the TBT Committee. Over the last few years, the Committee has received an increasing number of notifications of regulatory measures affecting a wide variety of digital issues, ranging from autonomous vehicles and drones to 5G and artificial intelligence (AI).
More and more members are using the Committee to raise “specific trade concerns” with regulations of other members concerning AI systems, cybersecurity, use of QR codes, encryption requirements, privacy risks of data collected by vehicle sensors and other issues.
Consequently, at the end of 2021 Committee members agreed to hold in 2022 and 2023 experience-sharing discussions on the relation of the TBT Agreement with the following digital topics: (i) use of digital solutions for conformity assessment; (ii) conformity assessment of goods obtained through e-commerce; (iii) possible impacts of technical barriers on trade in “intangible digital products” (including AI); and (iv) regulatory approaches on cybersecurity.
Since digitalization is also a powerful tool for enhancing transparency of regulatory measures covered by the TBT Agreement, the WTO Secretariat has developed E-Ping, a publicly available digital platform that provides alert services for regulations covering particular products and markets. It also offers a digital forum, where stakeholders can share information on measures undertaken at the national and international level (see https://epingalert.org/).
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