Second triennial review of the operation and implementation of the agreement on technical barriers to trade I. Introduction




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E. Technical Regulations


1.At the First Triennial Review, the Committee had reiterated that good regulatory practice for the preparation, adoption and application of technical regulations was a priority for Members to facilitate trade. Members had been invited to submit descriptions of their approach to technical regulations. A number of Members had advanced submissions to present their regulatory practices. The Committee agreed to continue the information exchange in this regard.

2.The Committee noted that minimizing the use of mandatory technical regulations and utilising voluntary international standards, where appropriate, rather than preparing separate domestic standards, could reduce the regulatory burden and open-up market access opportunities. In cases where technical regulations were required, the Committee reiterated that in accordance with Article 2.4, Members were obliged to use relevant international standards or relevant parts of them as a basis for their technical regulations except when such international standards or relevant parts would be an ineffective or inappropriate means for the fulfilment of the legitimate objectives pursued. The Committee also reiterated the importance of giving positive consideration to accepting as equivalent technical regulations of other Members as provided for under Article 2.7.


F. Technical Assistance and Special and Differential Treatment


1.At the First Triennial Review, the Committee had held discussions on technical assistance and special and differential treatment and noted that certain Members, in particular developing country Members, encountered difficulties in the implementation and operation of the Agreement. Members had been invited to exchange information concerning their national and regional technical assistance programmes. Members that require technical assistance had been invited to inform the Committee of any difficulties they encounter in the implementation and operation of the Agreement, and the kind of technical assistance they may need. Accordingly, a Workshop on Technical Assistance and Special and Differential Treatment was held in July 2000. The Committee considered the results of the Workshop useful, and took note of the needs and problems identified, the possible solutions suggested, as well as the information concerning technical assistance activities provided and planned by donor countries and organizations.

2.The Committee recognized the importance of ensuring that solutions were targeted at the specific priorities and needs identified by individual or groups of developing country Members that would allow them to effectively implement as well as benefit from the Agreement. This called for an assessment at the national level taking into account the specific situation of each Member. Effective coordination at the national level between authorities, agencies and other interested parties was considered essential to identify relevant infrastructure requirements and needs and to establish priorities.

3.The Committee noted that in accordance with the mandate provided by the General Council, the Director-General had been requested through his good offices to contact relevant international standardizing bodies and intergovernmental organizations to explore financial and technical mechanisms to assist the participation of developing countries in international standard-setting activities and to identify TBT-related technical assistance needs and how best to address these. In pursuing its further work, the Committee emphasized the importance of ensuring that its efforts complemented, and did not duplicate, the work by the Director-General and other WTO bodies in this field.

4.The Committee noted the importance of the coordination and cooperation of donor countries and organizations. The Committee took note of a number of capacity building programmes involving joint efforts to combine the expertise and experience of different organizations.

5.Recognizing the Integrated Framework for Least Developed Countries, and the ongoing work in other fora of the WTO, including the General Council and the Committee on Trade and Development, the Committee agreed that coordination and cooperation between the Committee and other relevant WTO bodies should be strengthened in order to effectively and efficiently address the issue of trade-related technical assistance in the context of the TBT Agreement.

6.The Committee noted that provision of technical assistance, including technical assistance under Article 11, could be directed at both the national and regional level. In this context, the Committee recognized the importance of technical cooperation and capacity-building, pursued through a range of cooperative activities, as an appropriate means of enhancing technical confidence. The Committee noted that technical assistance and cooperation could be delivered in different forms, including through internships, technical missions and consultancies, training of in-house experts, and "twinning arrangements" between institutions. Workshops and seminars were acknowledged as of ongoing importance to raise awareness of the benefits and obligations of the Agreement and to assist coordination among relevant agencies at the national level for the implementation of the Agreement. The Committee also noted the value of direct dialogue and contact between developing countries on national solutions to certain implementation problems, and that regional and international organizations could play a role in this regard.

7.In this context, the Committee recognized the importance of enhancing the effectiveness of technical assistance and cooperation and agreed to build on the results of the Workshop held in July 2000 with a view to identifying realistic and practical options for progress. The objective would be to develop a demand driven technical cooperation programme related to the Agreement, taking into account existing and proposed technical assistance activities, as well as seeking ways to achieve more effective cooperation and coordination among donors to better target the needs identified by developing country Members. The Committee invited Members on a voluntary basis to further communicate information on technical assistance programmes they proposed, provided or received.

8.The Committee agreed that the programme would need to evolve on the basis of the following elements: design of a survey with the assistance of relevant international, regional and bilateral organisations to assist developing countries in needs identification; identification and prioritization by developing and least developed country Members of their specific needs in the TBT field; consideration of existing technical assistance activities by multilateral, regional and bilateral organizations with a view to the effective and efficient development of technical assistance programmes; enhancement of co-operation between donors; reassessment of needs in light of agreed priorities, identification of technical assistance partners and financial considerations. The Committee agreed that the progress made in implementing the programme should be assessed by the Committee in the context of the Third Triennial Review and the Committee should also reflect its work on the programme in its Annual Report to the General Council.



9.The Committee also recalled its decision (G/TBT/1/Rev 6, page 22) in relation to technical assistance that "Technical assistance would remain as an item of the agenda of the Committee on a permanent basis and would be included on the agenda of a regular meeting of the Committee when so requested by a Member in accordance with the agreed procedures."
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