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 The notification procedure.

Concepts: technical regulation, conformity assessment procedure

Members to the TBT Agreement must announce their proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Members must also ensure that the technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures of local governments on the level directly below that of central government are announced, except where their technical content is substantially the same as that of texts previously announced by the central government bodies (Articles 3.2 and 7.2 of the Agreement).

Local governments are defined in Annex 1 to the Agreement as "Government other than a central government (e.g. states, provinces, L�nder, cantons, municipalities, etc.), its ministries or departments or any body subject to the control of such a government in respect of the activity in question." During the first triennial review of the Agreement, Members were asked to indicate which local governments, in each of their territories, were authorised to adopt technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures. Following communication of this information by certain Members, the Agreement's Secretariat prepared a list of local governments subject to the notification obligation.

The technical regulation and conformity assessment procedure concepts are defined in Annex 1 to the Agreement.

A "technical regulation" is a "Document which lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production methods, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory." It may also include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method.

Technical regulations must be mandatory. This is the element differentiating them from standards, the application of which is voluntary.

The Appellate Body in the "European Communities - Measures Affecting Asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Products" and "European Communities - Trade Description of Sardines" cases indicated three criteria that a document must meet in order to fall within the definition of "technical regulation" in the TBT Agreement:

«First, the document must apply to an identifiable product or group of products... Second, the document must lay down one or more characteristics of the product... Third, compliance with the product characteristics must be mandatory. »

The concept of "conformity assessment procedure" covers "Any procedure used, directly or indirectly, to determine that relevant requirements in technical regulations or standards are fulfilled." The explanatory note specifies that "Conformity assessment procedures include, inter alia, procedures for sampling, testing and inspection; evaluation, verification and assurance of conformity; registration, accreditation and approval as well as their combinations."

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