On 28-30 September, as part of its technical assistance programme, and with the support and cooperation of the JVI, the WTO Secretariat organized a Regional Workshop on the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). This Workshop brought together nineteen officials from nine countries of the CEECAC (Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus) region responsible for implementation of the TBT Agreement. This was the very first WTO-JVI activity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of the Workshop was to increase officials' knowledge and capacity in respect of the key principles of the TBT Agreement; the work of the TBT Committee; the transparency and notification process, and the use of related on-line tools; and quality infrastructure and good regulatory practices. The Workshop provided a forum to share national and regional experiences in the implementation of the Agreement, including in respect of national (and regional) coordination on TBT matters.
The Workshop was rated by all participants as very successful and highly useful for them professionally. They valued not only the WTO perspective from the Secretariat presenters, but also the perspective of the various non-WTO speakers from other (international and national) organizations working on TBT-related matters who also spoke (OECD, UNODC, UNIDO, ASTM, ASI, NSIT and ISO). Topics covered by the presentations ranged from principles of the TBT Agreement, good regulatory practice, international standards, how regulations can help combat illicit trade, certification, among many others.
The TBT Agreement belongs to the family of multilateral WTO agreements dealing with trade in goods (the GATT is an example of another "goods" agreements). As a specialized "goods" agreement, the TBT Agreement includes features specific to the preparation, adoption and application of regulatory measures that affect trade in goods. For instance, the Agreement strongly encourages regulatory harmonization by requiring, when possible, the use of international standards. The Agreement also requires members to avoid adopting regulations that restrict trade beyond what is necessary to address the stated policy objective (health, environment, etc.). Moreover, the Agreement contains detailed provisions to clarify and increase transparency throughout the entire process of preparing, adopting and applying TBT measures (the regulatory lifecycle). These provisions – together with TBT Committee guidance developed by members in a step-by-step fashion over the years – have enabled the TBT Agreement to become a unique multilateral instrument for addressing trade‑related regulatory measures on goods. Learn more about the WTO agreements series and WTO Technical Barriers to Trade.
Lauro Locks, Legal Counsellor, WTO