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 The notification procedure.

Conditions for notification

Members to the TBT Agreement must announce their proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures when the following two conditions are met:

There are no relevant international standards (for technical regulations) or no relevant guides or recommendations issued by international standardising bodies (for conformity assessment procedures) or the technical content of a proposed technical regulation or proposed conformity assessment procedure is not in accordance with relevant international standards or relevant guides or recommendations issued by international standardising bodies.

This condition results from the presumption that a technical regulation in accordance with an international standard will not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

The technical regulation or conformity assessment procedure may have a significant effect on trade of other Members.

There is no precise definition of the concept of a significant effect on international trade. According to a recommendation of the TBT Committee, in order to assess the significance of the effect on trade of technical regulations, the Members concerned should take into consideration such elements as the value or other importance of imports in respect of the importing and/or exporting Members concerned, the potential growth of such imports and difficulties for producers in other Members to comply with the proposed technical regulations. The effects in question may include both import-enhancing and import-reducing effects.

In addition, it is not only the effect on trade of a single proposed technical regulation or single conformity assessment procedure which should be considered as the combined impact of notified texts with other pre-existing technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures should be assessed.

Finally, the effect on trade may involve one or more products or groups of products and may affect the relations between two or more Members.

Timing of notification

Technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures must be notified to the WTO Secretariat at the proposal stage, namely at an early enough stage, when amendments can still be made and when comments can still be taken into account. The aim of the notification procedure would not actually be achieved if the communication occurred after the adoption of the text as it would no longer be possible to take account of the comments of other Members to the Agreement.

Under Articles 2.10 and 5.7, Members are not required to announce, at the proposal stage, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures adopted following urgent problems of security, health, environmental protection or national security. However, they are required to inform other Members of the adoption of these texts, to provide these on request and to take account of any comments from other Members.

The TBT Committee has noted that it would be useful for Members to share information, on a voluntary basis, with regard to the future preparation of proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, before the corresponding notifications are submitted, in order to increase transparency and improve the possibilities for making comments. This procedure could occur electronically and the TBT Committee encourages Members to draw the Committee's attention to such information.

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