The USA TBT Enquiry Point relies on the WTO’s SPS&TBT platform, ePing, for distribution of and access to notifications made under the TBT Agreement, and encourages all stakeholders to REGISTER FOR ePing to receive e-mail notification alerts. For assistance with or questions concerning ePing, please contact us at usatbtep [at] nist.gov (usatbtep[at]nist[dot]gov).
Comment submissions by US Stakeholders on WTO Member notifications:
Establish a placeholder for possible escalation;
Keep the USG informed of systemic issues and patterns;
Suggest alternative regulatory approaches;
Help to maintain awareness of transparency obligations and regulating in a way that is no more trade restrictive than necessary;
Attract attention of other likeminded organizations and governments;
Provide information to possibly address issues using other trade mechanisms
For non-notified foreign technical barriers to trade for non-agricultural products, contact the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC) in the International Trade Administration (ITA) at the Department of Commerce (DOC), which specializes in working with U.S. stakeholders to remove unfair foreign government-imposed trade barriers.
The following information is provided to assist U.S. stakeholders in the preparation and submission of comments in response to notifications of proposed foreign technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures made under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. For the United States, the TBT Enquiry Point and Notification Authority is in the Standards Coordination Office (SCO) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies, should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point at usatbtep [at] nist.gov (usatbtep[at]nist[dot]gov). Please include the notification symbol and notification title in the subject of the message and in the comments document.
- Notifications made by WTO Members to the WTO TBT Committee are available via the SPS&TBT ePing Platform which is maintained and operated by the WTO and allows all interested persons to track and follow notifications and to register to receive customized e-mail alerts.
- Comments received by the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point from U.S. stakeholders are not intended for or shared with the WTO Secretariat or the WTO Membership as a whole; they are shared by the USA TBT Enquiry Point with the national TBT Enquiry Point of the notifying WTO Member and with the relevant trade agencies within the U.S. Government (USG). Comments are only shared bilaterally with the notifying WTO Member, or WTO Members issuing regional notifications. WTO Members are not obligated to and may not consider comments that are conveyed from U.S. stakeholders outside official communication from the U.S. TBT Enquiry Point to another WTO Member TBT Enquiry Point.
In order to facilitate engagement by all interested WTO Members and encourage the use and adoption of ePing, when the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point submits comments from the Government of the United States (USG) on a notification to another WTO Member Enquiry Point, the U.S. Enquiry Point will also communicate to other national TBT Enquiry Points that comments have been provided on a specific notification. This brief communication to other WTO Members will take place using ePing, the WTO's notification alert service and communications tool. Comments from U.S. stakeholders will not automatically be shared with other WTO Members.
Non-U.S. entities who wish to submit comments on non-U.S. notifications made to the WTO TBT Committee are advised to contact their own national TBT Enquiry Point to determine the comment procedures used by their government. WTO Members and their stakeholders who wish to comment on U.S. notifications made to the WTO TBT Committee should follow instructions for submitting comments as indicated in the specific U.S. notification for which comments are intended.
- Contact information for all WTO Member national TBT Enquiry Points is accessible from ePing.
Preparing and Submitting Comments
U.S. stakeholders should adhere to the following guidelines to prepare and send comments to/through the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point on notifications made by other WTO Members to the TBT Committee. Comments are not intended for or shared with the WTO. If after reviewing these guidelines you have further questions about the submission of comments by the USA TBT Enquiry Point to a WTO Member on behalf of a U.S. stakeholder, or questions about the comment process, please contact the USA TBT Enquiry Point using our contact information below.
Send your comments as an e-mail attachment to usatbtep [at] nist.gov (usatbtep[at]nist[dot]gov); use of company letterhead is encouraged but not required
Use as the address for your comments the receiving WTO Member's national TBT Enquiry Point and/or the responsible agency (as listed in Box #2 and/or Box #11 of a regular notification; mailing addresses or regulator contact information may or may not be listed in an addendum notification – use the WTO Member's National Enquiry Point mailing and/or e-mail address if no contact information for addressing comments is not included in the notification).
- Include in the comments the relevant, complete notification symbol(s) (e.g., G/TBT/N/ISO Country Code/Number) and title of the notification.
- If possible, send your comments to arrive in the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point AT LEAST two (2) days prior to the comment deadline date, though we make every effort to process comments within 24 hours (or less) of receiving them (on business days).
If your comments concern a measure and/or action that you believe is a Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) that was not notified to the WTO, or if you are unable to locate, and/or are unsure of the notification symbol for a measure / action that may have or may not have been notified by a WTO Member to the WTO TBT Committee, please contact the USA TBT Enquiry Point using our contact information below, preferably prior to submitting the comments to us. We can assist in determining whether the WTO Member has notified, and you can also check, using the ePing SPS&TBT Platform ‘Search notifications’ feature at https://epingalert.org/en/Search/Index. For non-notified foreign technical barriers to trade for non-agricultural products, we also encourage you to reach out as early as possible to the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC) in the International Trade Administration (ITA) at the Department of Commerce (DOC), which specializes in working with U.S. stakeholders to remove unfair foreign government-imposed trade barriers. They will assist our office in the process of determining whether the action / measure in question is indeed TBT, and if appropriate, in creating the communication to send to the other WTO Member regarding the non-notified measure or action. Review examples of TBTs on the TANC website here; other types of barriers that can be reported to TANC are business environment barriers (click here to learn more) and government influence barriers (click here to learn more). You can also report trade barriers to TANC using the form at https://tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/index.asp.
Please note: Mexico's Quality Infrastructure Law (QIL) and General Law on Regulatory Improvement governs its standards and regulatory systems. Comments on Mexico's notifications should be submitted to the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point in English and in Spanish. To request a courtesy list of fee-based translation services, please send an e-mail message to usatbtep [at] nist.gov (usatbtep[at]nist[dot]gov).
Comments can include as much detail as possible, such as:
- The title and notification symbol which they concern; notifications issued by the WTO TBT Committee are contained in WTO document series “G/TBT/N/three letter ISO country code/Number”. Refer to the section under Transparency obligations on the WTO's website here.
- Complete contact information of the commenter and/or commenting organization, e.g., organization/company name, contact name, email, etc. (please use letterhead if possible);
- The address of the notifying WTO Member national TBT Enquiry Point and/or the agency responsible as provided in the notification in Box #2 and/or Box #11. Notifications are accessible from ePing. Contact information for all national WTO Member TBT Enquiry Points is also available from ePing.
- Issue statement, e.g., the reason for submitting comments. Focus on technical aspects of the proposed regulation or regulations with which possible issues have been identified.
- Supporting rationale statement, again focusing on technical aspects of the proposed regulation(s) or draft mandatory conformity assessment procedure(s) with which potential issues have been identified by the commenter(s).
- Estimated trade value of exports by your organization and/or product sector to the WTO Member.
- Added cost for your organization and/or stakeholders if the draft measure were to be adopted and implemented as notified.
- Possible unintended consequences the draft measure may or will create for the regulated sector or for the market in general.
- Suggested less restrictive or less burdensome methods of demonstrating conformity to or compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Suggested edits to the draft regulation or conformity assessment procedure to ensure the measure is no more trade restrictive than necessary, affords national treatment to imported goods, and ensures legitimate regulatory objectives are met (refer to section “When is a technical regulation an unnecessary obstacle to trade?”.
- Other suggested and/or more up-to-date international standards for the product or product sector. For further details, refer to the latest revision of the WTO document G/TBT/1, “Decisions and Recommendations Adopted by the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade”, pages 18 to 21.
- Any questions you or your stakeholders may have concerning the draft measure and/or unclear portions of the draft text you would expect the regulatory authority to address and/or clarify in the draft and/or final rule.
- In case of a problem meeting proposed date of entry into force: If the commenter believes that compliance with the proposed regulation or conformity assessment procedure cannot or is unlikely to be achieved by the proposed date of entry into force as indicated in the notification (in Box #9), it would be helpful to include a suggested date by which compliance could be achieved. In terms of timing of entry into force of technical regulations, the phrase “reasonable interval” is understood by the WTO TBT Committee to mean a period of not less than six months after a final regulation is published, except when this would be ineffective in fulfilling legitimate objectives. Further information is available in the latest revision of the WTO document G/TBT/1, “Decisions and Recommendations Adopted by the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade”.
Avoid sending your comments to the USA TBT Enquiry Point on the date listed as the final date for comments in the notification.
- Comment due dates are assigned by the WTO Member and do not account for global time differences and/or a due date that falls on a weekend or Federal holiday.
- We therefore request that comments are submitted two (2) business days prior to the posted comment deadline due to global time differences and the time needed for processing comments by the USA TBT Enquiry Point and by the receiving national TBT Enquiry Point.
- The USA TBT Enquiry Point processes comments from U.S. interests within 24 hours of receipt if received during official hours of business, 8:30am to 5pm ET Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Comments received after 3pm ET on business days and anytime on Federal holidays may not be processed until the following business day.
- If additional time beyond the final date for comments provided by the WTO Member is needed to prepare comments for a specific notification, please contact the USA TBT Enquiry Point at least one week in advance of the comment deadline regarding a possible request for an extension of the comment period, which we can send to the other WTO Member.
After Comments Are Received by the USA TBT Enquiry Point from U.S. Stakeholders:
- Within 24 hours of receipt Monday through Friday during business hours, the USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point will review comments received from U.S. stakeholders to make sure the basic guidance above has been followed (i.e., comments are addressed to the correct contact(s), and the WTO notification symbol and title are included);
- If comments do not meet the basic guidance, our staff will follow up with the comment submitter / submitting organization to suggest essential updates;
- If / once comments meet the basic guidance, our staff will transmit them to the relevant WTO Member's national TBT Enquiry Point by e-mail and follow up with the comment submitter / submitting organization to confirm the submission of comments to the notifying WTO Member;
- If the notification and/or its accompanying text(s) includes instructions and/or a link for submitting comments online and/or directly to a regulatory authority, please contact the USA TBT Enquiry Point to ensure the submission of the comments to the notifying WTO Member national TBT Enquiry Point and the regulatory authority, as well as to ensure the relevant trade officials in the U.S. Government and in the notifying foreign government receive a copy of the comments.
- The USA TBT Enquiry Point shares with U.S. commenters / commenting organizations acknowledgement of receipt of comments and responses to comments provided to by the notifying WTO Member's national TBT Enquiry Point or relevant authorities.
Please contact us if you have any remaining questions; please do not include as the intended recipient in comments documents intended for a foreign government the name and/or physical or e-mail address of the USA TBT Enquiry Point or NIST (see above for information on addressing comments to the WTO Member) or a contact in the World Trade Organization or one of its Divisions.
USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point contact information:
||USA WTO TBT Enquiry Point
||usatbtep [at] nist.gov (usatbtep[at]nist[dot]gov)
- Do NOT send/submit comments directly to the other Member's national TBT Enquiry Point, its regulatory authorities, or to the WTO Secretariat, one of its Divisions, or its staff.
- Each TBT Enquiry Point is authorized to accept comments and official communications from other TBT Enquiry Points. Members are not obligated to and may not consider comments that are conveyed from U.S. stakeholders outside official communication from the U.S. TBT Enquiry Point to another WTO Member TBT Enquiry Point and/or the Member's regulatory authorities.
- Do NOT list in the comments document the mailing address (physical or e-mail) of the USA TBT Enquiry Point or NIST, and/or the name of a staff person at the USA TBT Enquiry Point or NIST.
- Do NOT list in the comments document the name and/or contact information for a staff person at the WTO Secretariat or one of its Divisions; comments are NOT shared with the WTO or its staff.
Other Considerations and Information
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) actively represents the interests of U.S. agriculture in the WTO committees on Agriculture, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). FAS also contributes to the negotiation and enforcement of free trade agreements.
- FAS alerts exporters to expected changes in foreign regulations concerning food and beverage and nutrition labeling requirements, food packaging requirements, and various other agriculture and food related trade matters. Working with other Federal agencies, FAS coordinates the development and finalization of comments on measures proposed by foreign governments to influence their development and minimize the impact on U.S. agriculture exports.
- USDA provides information about Tracking Regulatory Changes by WTO Members here.
- Non-US entities who wish to submit comments on non-US notifications are encouraged to contact their TBT Enquiry Point for guidance on comment submissions.