The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Center for Standards and
Certification Information (NCSCI),
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
, NCSCI/NIST is the
TBT U.S. Enquiry Point and
Notification Authority and therefore has direct responsibility for notifying
to the WTO
proposed U.S. technical
regulations and conformity assessment procedures that may significantly
affect the trade of other Member countries. NCSCI is responsible for
notifying regulations and conformity assessment procedures affecting
non-agricultural products (including the packaging, marking, and labeling of
Transparency in the context of the
used to signify one of the fundamental principles of trade agreements like
the TBT Agreement: the aim is to achieve a greater degree of clarity,
predictability, and information about trade policies, rules, and regulations
of Members. In implementing this concept Members use notifications. Under
the TBT Agreement, notifications are used to inform other Members about new
or changed regulations that may significantly affect their trading partners.
The term “Transparency” under the TBT Agreement also includes answering
reasonable questions and publishing regulations.
TBT Article 10 states: “Each Member shall ensure that an enquiry point
exists which is able to answer all reasonable inquiries from other
Members and interested parties in other Members, as well as to
provide relevant documents."
TBT Article 2 and Article 5: Notification to members is required:
“Whenever a relevant international standard does not exist or the
technical content of a proposed technical regulation is not in accordance
with the technical content of relevant international standards, and if the
technical regulation (or conformity assessment procedure) may have a
significant effect on trade."
What Happens When Regulations Contain both TBT and Sanitary and Phytosanitary
When a regulation contains both TBT and SPS measures, it should be notified
according to both the TBT and SPS Agreements, preferably with an indication
of which parts of the regulation fall under the TBT Agreement (e.g., food
quality or conformity assessment procedure) and which parts fall under the
SPS Agreement (e.g. a food safety measure).
How Do You Determine If A Measure Must Be Notified?
When assessing whether a regulation may have a “significant effect on
trade,” you should take into consideration relevant information which is
available, such elements as the value or other importance of imports in
respect to the importing and/or exporting Members concerned, whether from
other Members individually or collectively, the potential development of
such imports, and difficulties for producers in other Member countries,
particularly in developing country Members, to comply with the proposed TBT
regulations. The concept of a “significant effect on trade of other Members”
should include both import-enhancing and import-reducing effects on the
trade of other Members, as long as such effects are significant.
Timing of Notifications
A notification should be made when a draft with the complete text of a
proposed regulation is available and when amendments can still be introduced
and comments taken into account. Members shall normally allow a period of at
least 60 days for comments.
Handling Comments on Notifications
Members submitting comments on a notified draft regulation should provide
them without unnecessary delay to the authority designated to handle the
comments, or to the national notification authority if no other designation
A Member receiving comments through the designated body should, without
- acknowledge the receipt of such comments;
- explain within a reasonable period of time, and at the earliest
possible date before the adoption of the measure, to any Member from
which it has received comments, how it will take these comments into
account and, where appropriate, provide additional relevant information
on the proposed regulations or measures concerned;
- provide to any Member from which it has received comments, a copy of
the corresponding regulations as adopted or information that no
corresponding regulations will be adopted for the time being; and
- where possible make available to other Members comments and
questions it has received and answers it has provided, preferably
through electronic facilities.
Request for Extensions
Members should grant requests for extension of the comment period wherever
practicable, in particular with regard to notifications relating to products
of particular interest to developing countries, where there have been delays
in receiving and translating the relevant documents or where there is a need
for further clarification of the measure notified. A 30-day extension should
normally be provided.