EFS Consulting

WTO new report on Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement

WTO recently published a report on the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and the functioning of the WTO ePings notification system.

The Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement aims to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures followed by WTO members do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. The WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade conducts yearly reviews of the implementation of the TBT Agreement.  This year, the WTO Report contains 10 key findings:

  1. WTO members submitted more than 3,000 notifications about product requirements for traded goods to the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee in 2020. Notifications are a form of advance notice. They provide an opportunity for the WTO membership to comment on the draft measures before they enter into force.
  2. Since 1995, the number of notifications submitted to the TBT Committee has grown by an average of 11% per year.
  3. The east African region – specifically Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – has some of the highest levels of notifications. Together, these four countries (three of which are LDCs) were responsible for 26% of the notifications submitted in 2020.
  4. Approximately half of the WTO membership regularly notifies the WTO about new regulations or changes to old ones.
  5. About two-thirds of notifications submitted to the WTO in 2020 allowed, on average, 56 days for members to comment.
  6. Protection of human health or safety was at the heart of almost half – 45% – of all notified regulations in 2020.
  7. The WTO’s main tool to disseminate TBT notifications and enhance transparency on standards and regulations is ePing, an online alert system. By the end of 2020, ePing had more than 12,000 users, with private and public sector users roughly equal.
  8. The number of trade concerns raised by WTO members at the TBT Committee has grown by 26% per year, on average-
  9. In 2020, a record number of new trade concerns – 57 – were discussed at the TBT Committee.
  10. About one-third of the WTO membership, 57 members, participated in discussions on trade concerns in 2020.
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