SECOND TRIENNIAL REVIEW OF THE OPERATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF
THE AGREEMENT ON TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE
1.00000000Article 15.4 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade provides that "Not later than the end of the third year from the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement and at the end of each three-year period thereafter, the Committee shall review the operation and implementation of this Agreement, including the provisions relating to transparency, with a view to recommending an adjustment of the rights and obligations of the Agreement where necessary to ensure mutual economic advantage and balance of rights and obligations, without prejudice to the provisions of Article 12. Having regard, inter alia, to the experience gained in the implementation of the Agreement, the Committee shall, where appropriate, submit proposals for amendments to the text of this Agreement to the Council for Trade in Goods."
2.The First Triennial Review of the Operation and Implementation of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) was concluded on 13 November 1997 (G/TBT/5). As a result, a work programme was established by the Committee on 27 March 1998 (G/TBT/M/11) to continue the work arising from the First Triennial Review. Consequently, submissions were made by Members during the period of 1998-2000 for the purpose of information exchange, to share national experiences regarding the implementation and operation of the Agreement, as well as to put forward proposals in a number of areas (G/TBT/W/60-61, 63-64, 70-71, 74 AND 74/ADD.1, 75 AND 75/REV.1, 79-85, 87 and 87/REV.1, 88, 93, 99, 110-111, 112/REV.1, 113, 118, 121, 121/CORR.1, 132-133, 136, 138-140, and 142-151 – listed in Annex 6). A stock-taking paper of the submissions is contained in documents G/TBT/SPEC/11 and Add.1-2. Discussions on these papers assisted in providing a basis for the preparation of the Second Triennial Review.
3.In order to follow-up on the work programme agreed at the First Triennial Review, the Committee organized the following activities: Workshop and Special Meeting on Procedures for Information Exchange on 14 September 1998; Information Session of Bodies Involved in the Preparation of International Standards on 19 November 1998; Symposium on Conformity Assessment Procedures on 8-9 June 1999; and Workshop on Technical Assistance and Differential Treatment in the context of the TBT Agreement on 19-20 July 2000. (A description of these meetings is contained in Annex 1). Consequently, a number of actions were taken, e.g. the Committee agreed on a number of decisions and recommendations concerning notifications and procedures for information exchange (G/TBT/1/Rev.6), including a decision regarding work programmes under paragraph J of the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards by Standardizing Bodies (Annex 3 of the Agreement); a survey on the electronic facilities available in Members' national enquiry points was conducted by the Secretariat (G/TBT/W/105 and Suppl.1-2); a synthesis paper compiling the information provided by a number of bodies involved in the preparation of international standards was prepared by the Secretariat (G/TBT/W/106).
4.In response to the decisions adopted at the First Triennial Review, the following papers have been prepared by the Secretariat: a list of relevant international guides and recommendations related to conformity assessment procedures (G/TBT/W/72 and Rev.1); a list of Members whose local government bodies, directly below the central government level, are authorized to adopt technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures (G/TBT/W/76 and Add.1); a list of standardizing bodies within the territories of Members (G/TBT/W/93); and a paper on technical barriers to the market access of developing countries (G/TBT/W/103). In addition, the Secretariat has taken action to further the implementation of Article 10.6, which provides that "the Secretariat shall, when it receives notifications in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, … draw the attention of developing country Members to any notifications relating to products of particular interest to them" (G/TBT/W/124).
B.the second triennial review
1.The Committee prepared and conducted its Second Triennial Review of the Implementation and Operation of the Agreement at its twelfth to twenty-third meetings held on 27 March, 1 July, 15 September and 20 November of 1998, 31 March, 11 June and 1 October of 1999, as well as 25 February, 17-19 May, 21 July, 6 October and 10 November of 2000 (G/TBT/M/11-22). The elements considered during the Review, and the decisions taken by the Committee are set out below.
II.ELEMENTS CONSIDERED UNDER THE REVIEW
A. implementation and administration of the agreement
1.Article 15.2 of the Agreement provides that "Each Member shall, promptly after the date on which the Agreement enters into force for it, inform the Committee of measures in existence or taken to ensure the implementation and administration of the Agreement". These statements are seen as providing a useful picture on how different Members implement the Agreement. The Committee noted that the preparation and submission of these statements could also assist Members in meeting their obligations under the Agreement, by enabling them to take stock of their existing legislation and institutional structure for the implementation and administration of the Agreement.
2.The Committee recognized that whilst Members might face similar problems regarding the implementation and administration of the Agreement, their specific needs and appropriate solutions to address those needs were different. There was no one single model bureaucratic or administrative structure that all countries should follow. The Committee also noted that a significant underpinning of the Agreement is domestic and international cooperation and coordination of trade, regulatory, voluntary standards and conformity assessment policy and practice. It was important for Members to ensure cooperation and coordination at the domestic level, and inter alia for the achievement of increased awareness of the TBT requirements at the national level. The involvement of all interested parties, including the private sector, was also important to further the understanding of the benefits and importance of the Agreement and to support implementation by national authorities. A national policy concerning TBT matters could usefully be developed by the government, involving relevant government agencies, authorities, voluntary standards bodies and other interested parties.
3.At the conclusion of the Second Triennial Review (as indicated in Annex 2) 77 Members have submitted their statements under Article 15.2 (G/TBT/2 and Add.1-61). The Committee considered that the status of implementation needed to be improved. The Committee agreed that efforts should be made to understand the reasons for this situation and to seek practical solutions.
4.The Committee recalled that during the First Triennial Review, Members had been invited to exchange information on the arrangements they had in place to achieve an effective implementation and administration of the provisions of the Agreement. The Committee agreed that Members should be encouraged to continue sharing their experiences in this regard. In particular, the Committee urged those Members who had not done so to submit their statements in accordance with the relevant decisions taken by the Committee as provided for in document G/TBT/1/Rev.6.
5.The Committee took note of the discussions in the General Council on implementation concerns, particularly in regard to participation by developing country Members in international standardization activities, and the problems they faced in the area of international standards and conformity assessment. The Committee recognized that the issue of implementation was linked to a number of elements of the Second Triennial Review, such as technical assistance, international standards and conformity assessment procedures as further elaborated below. It was noted that the issue of implementation was of an ongoing nature, and that the Committee stood ready to report to the General Council, if requested, as well as in its Annual Report.