WTO members will intensify their work over the coming months on ensuring that standards and regulations do not act as unnecessary obstacles to trade.
In their discussions in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee, they will also work on developing guidance on how governments should test and certify products, with the aim of reducing trade barriers.
“Conformity assessment procedures can become a major barrier to trade,” said Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff.
“Guidelines agreed by the TBT Committee would help to reduce some of these barriers. There are several proposals on the table, and I look forward to seeing members making progress towards a common text.”
In October, members will begin outlining a new workplan for the TBT Committee for 2022-2024. Under this ‘triennial review process’, members will discuss the implementation of the TBT Agreement and exchange views on new areas of work for the Committee. “This transparent and dynamic process brings our members’ heads together to set the agenda for future work on regulations and standards,” DDG Wolff said.
Members will also start in October a discussion on labelling requirements for exported goods and on technical assistance provided to developing countries. In addition, they will hold a workshop on the importance of the gender perspective in the development of standards and technical regulations. In December, members will review in the TBT Committee the measures taken by governments to facilitate trade in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specific trade concerns (STCs) will be discussed at a meeting of the TBT Committee on 28-29 October, providing members with the opportunity to raise concerns about any standards-related trade barriers encountered by their export companies.
The TBT Committee’s discussion of STCs has continued without interruption this year despite COVID-19 limitations on physical meetings. Members used a “written procedure” to raise concerns at the Committee’s meeting on 13-14 May, where a record number of STCs (72) was discussed.
“The Committee found an innovative solution to allow members to continue the exchange of views on specific trade concerns during the pandemic,” said DDG Wolff. “The eAgenda platform they have used will help strengthen and improve the efficiency of the Committee’s work as we gradually move back to normality.”