TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE: TRANSPARENCY
This toolkit contains information on the transparency obligations and procedures, and related work in the TBT Committee, as well as on-line resources.
Transparency is a cornerstone of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement and consists of three core elements: notifications; establishment of enquiry points; and publication requirements. Further explanation on these elements can be found here.
Notification of draft technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures
Governments are required to “notify” other members, through the WTO Secretariat, of proposed measures that may have a significant effect on other members' trade and that are not based on relevant international standards. These notifications are contained in WTO document series “G/TBT/N/3 digit ISO country code/#”.
Statement of Implementation
Governments are required to submit a one-time “statement of implementation” (Art. 15.2). This statement should include information on relevant laws and regulations, the time period allowed for comments on notifications, contact information for enquiry points and other relevant national authorities, titles of publications on TBT measures. These notifications are contained in WTO document series “G/TBT/2/Add”. A list of members who have submitted their statements is available here.
Each member must put in place an Enquiry Point that is able to answer reasonable enquiries from other members, including on any adopted or proposed technical regulations, standards, conformity assessment procedures (Art.10). Contact information for enquiry points is available on the TBT IMS.
TBT Enquiry Point Guide
The guide compiles practical information on how Enquiry Points are performing their tasks and overcoming everyday challenges.
Notification of Agreement under Article 10.7
Under Article 10.7 of the Agreement “Whenever a Member has reached an agreement with any other country or countries on issues related to technical regulations, standards or conformity assessment procedures which may have a significant effect on trade, at least one Member party to the agreement shall notify other Members through the Secretariat of the products to be covered by the agreement and include a brief description of the agreement.”
Standardizing bodies: Acceptance of the Code of Good Practice
Standards are addressed by the TBT Agreement in a separate Code of Good Practice for the preparation, adoption and application of standards (Annex 3). Standardizing bodies that have accepted or withdrawn from the Code are required to notify the WTO and the ISO/IEC Information Centre. These notifications are contained in WTO document series “G/TBT/CS/N/#”. The WTO ISO Standards Information Gateway contains information on the Standardizing bodies that have accepted the Code and their work programmes.
The publication requirements are designed to advertise a member's intent to regulate as well as to provide access to the final texts of regulations. This way, members, and other interested parties can become acquainted with them, have an opportunity to comment and/or adapt to the new requirements. The list of members' publications is available on the TBT IMS.
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Work on transparency in the TBT Committee
- 8th Triennial review recommendations related to transparency.
- Decisions and recommendations adopted by the TBT Committee related to transparency can be found here.
- 8 November 2016: Eighth Special Meeting on Information Exchange
- 17 June 2014: Report of the Chairman on the Thematic Session on Transparency (Informal meeting, Geneva)
- 18 June 2013: Seventh Special Meeting on Information Exchange
Presentations (zip file)
Making transparency work
New WTO TBT Enquiry Point Guide
TBT Information Management System (TBTIMS) offers a wide range of search criteria for notifications, specific trade concerns and other TBT information.
Integrated Trade Intelligence Portal (I-TIP) contains comprehensive information on members non-tariff measures (NTMs).
https://tbtcode.iso.org provides information on the Standardizing bodies that have accepted the WTO TBT Code of Good Practice and their work programmes