— The word “Transparency” in the context of the WTO
While the word “transparency” is often used in the context of the WTO it is not specifically defined. In the SPS Agreement it appears in two places, in the title of Article 7 (Transparency) and in the title of Annex B (Transparency of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations).
The notion of transparency is closely linked to the provisions surrounding notification procedures. In reviewing the SPS Agreement during 1998, the Committee noted that Members had
“significantly improved transparency”1 and that this was illustrated by a progressive and more comprehensive implementation of notification obligations. It is notable that in the WTO Analytical Index2 a link is made directly from the term
“transparency” to the “notification requirements”.
In essence the word transparency in the context of the WTO is used to signify one of the fundamental principles of its agreements: the aim to achieve a greater degree of clarity, predictability and information about trade policies, rules and regulations of Members. In implementing this concept Members use notifications. Under the Agreement on Agriculture, notifications are used to follow the implementation of commitments, inter alia, in the areas of subsidies and market access. Under the SPS Agreement, notifications are used to inform other Members about new or changed regulations that affect their trading partners. Transparency under the SPS Agreement also implies answering reasonable questions and publishing regulations.