WTO TBT Committee meeting overview: Good Regulatory Practices and RIAs

Posted on: April 19, 2016

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One of the interesting events in relation to TBT issues worth to be mentioned is the WTO TBT Committee Meeting held in Geneva on 7-10 March 2016 (the Technical Expert of the ACP TBT Programme was taking part in it). The work of the WTO TBT Committee Meeting was dedicated to two Thematic Sessions: on Conformity Assessment Procedures (presentations from Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, ASIAN – Singapore, the USA, Switzerland, China, Mexico) and on Experience of WTO Members in conducting Regulatory Impact Assessment (presentations from the US, Korea, OECD, Australia and the EU). The idea of first session was to present cases of national conformity assessment procedures for recognition with the basic principle respected – inspected and tested once and accepted everywhere. Reduction of costs for producers was the “red line” that was underlining all presentations. As to the Regulatory Impact Assessment, the following conclusions can be drawn from the experience of the countries conducting RIAs in the past and useful for the ACP countries: 1) understanding of regulations and their scope can be very different from country to country (for example, in Australia it is very broad, referring to “any rule with an expectation of compliance” and in the US only to “economically significant regulations”, with a clear limit of significance – US DA 12866 & 13563), so, conducting RIAs makes a great importance in emphasizing what is the purpose of RIA and what regulation is subject of RIA; 2) public consultations for conducting RIAs are crucial, however, again in different countries it is done differently and understood differently; 3) RIAs do not resolve all questions in relation to appropriateness of a new technical regulation / law, no they are supposed to do so, they are additional tools to be used for balanced decisions based on a number of considerations; 4) questions posed for RIAs and methods of modelling used for making assessment and analyses should contain quantitative and qualitative elements and should be interpreted and finally 5) Good Regulatory Impact Analyses and Risk Assessment should be following principles of transparency, clarity, logical structure, use of good and reliable science, should be well-documented and take into account magnitude of uncertainly as well as discussion of sources. Overall it was acknowledged that participation in the WTO TBT Committee Meeting from the ACP TBT Programme perspective was not only an important occasion to support the ACP Geneva project (currently ongoing – Project Reference 026-14) and meet the delegates from the ACP countries but also contribute to better visibility and knowledge of the ACP TBT Programme among all WTO Members. The ACP Secretariat in Geneva was also represented by His Excellency, Ambassador Kisiri, who expressed his gratitude to the ACP TBT Programme, funded by the EU for the most valuable assistance through a whole range of projects in capitals, on the regional level and, particularly, in Geneva.

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