Prior to the event, the Committee identified a number of issues that
presentations could usefully address:
— a description of the nature of the labelling initiative;
— the coverage and objective of the labelling initiative;
— approaches used within the initiative to ensure conformity (e.g.
government certification, third party certification or
— information on relevant implementing bodies (e.g. government
authorities or private agencies);
— if the requirements are voluntary or mandatory and how that was
— relevant international standards and transparency procedures that were
used in the development of the labelling initiative;
— the implementation and the effectiveness of the labelling initiative;
— enforcement measures, in the case of mandatory schemes;
— the effects on market access (i.e. positive or negative), and in
particular for developing countries;
— whether concerns have been raised by trading partners about the
potential adverse trade effects of the scheme, and how these concerns
have been taken into account;
— possibilities for technical assistance and special and differential
treatment to developing countries; and
— the possibility of accepting technical regulations/standards of other
Members as equivalent.
A number of horizontal issues were raised. With regard to market access,
participants stressed that labelling schemes need to be as least trade
restrictive as possible and that adherence to the obligations under the
TBT Agreement could facilitate this. In this respect, the issue of
mandatory vs. voluntary labelling schemes was brought up several times.
Participants also noted the importance of labelling schemes being
developed in a transparent manner. For example, the early communication
of changes to labelling requirements could allow exporters to respond
appropriately. It was noted that many of the labelling schemes used
relevant international standards as a basis. In a few cases, the schemes
had cooperative arrangements or recognition of equivalence between
Members. Generally, the schemes required some form of testing and/or
certification for conformity assessment.
In nearly all of the case studies presented, it was stressed that
labelling requirements were often only one component of a larger effort
to achieve a policy objective. It was recognized that different measures
were needed to achieve an overall policy objective, and that trade
measures were not always the answer.