The TBT notification procedure helps prevent the creation of international technical barriers to trade. It was introduced by the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (the TBT Agreement), a multilateral agreement administered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It gives participants advanced knowledge of new technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures envisioned by other countries. The EU’s participation in the TBT Agreement helps businesses in EU countries access markets outside the EU.
Aim of the TBT notification procedure
To avoid any potential technical barriers to trade, WTO Members submit national legislation at draft stage to other members of the TBT Agreement. They can then assess the impact on their exports and identify any provisions breaching the Agreement.
While allowing all WTO Members to maintain their right to adopt regulations, the TBT Agreement aims to:
- prevent the creation of unnecessary and unjustified technical barriers to international trade;
- prevent the adoption of protectionist measures;
- encourage global harmonisation and mutual recognition of technical standards;
- enhance transparency.
It also helps enterprises prepare their products and services for new technical requirements. A dialogue between WTO Members can result in the amendment of a notified measure. The measure can even be withdrawn by the proposing country.
How does the TBT notification procedure work?
Upon circulation of the notified measure, there is a minimum 60 day period for comments during which the adoption process is frozen. Economic operators may provide their contributions on the drafts to the EU Member State Enquiry Points or to the EU Enquiry Point. Comments are sent directly by the EU TBT Enquiry Point to the notifying WTO Member.
Comments may result in bilateral or multilateral discussions within the TBT Committee itself. The notifying Member may then decide to:
- change the content of the proposed regulation;
- postpone its entry into force;
- or withdraw the measure altogether.
Once the notified measures are adopted, WTO Members are encouraged to ensure that they are published promptly.
The notifications and most notified drafts are available in the TBT database. The database also provides detailed information on the TBT Agreement.