Facilitating access to proposed international technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for review and comment as a means to promote fair trade and reduce uncertainty for exporters
USA Enquiry Point for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) obliges all Parties to maintain an Enquiry Point that is able to answer questions from interested parties and other WTO Members regarding technical regulations, standards developed by government bodies, and conformity assessment procedures, as well as provide relevant documents. The TBT Agreement also requires that WTO Members notify the WTO of certain proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures so interested parties can become acquainted with them and have an opportunity to submit written comments prior to their finalization and entry into force. The enquiry point and notification authority for the United States is operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Enquiry Point:
- Facilitates public awareness of notifications made to and circulated by the TBT Committee (3,966 in 2021 and 3,905 in 2022) via the WTO’s ePing SPS&TBT Platform, a free, web-based service accessible at https://epingalert.org/. ePing is used to follow and search for notifications, to receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications of interest are circulated, to enhance domestic communication and information sharing, and to locate and review Specific Trade Concerns (STCs) raised in the TBT Committee. The e-mail alert service for U.S. stakeholders maintained and operated by NIST since 2005, Notify U.S., has reached its end of life. Access to notifications stored there has been discontinued. ePing is available to all stakeholders, provides complete notification details, and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive e-mail alerts. Requests for training on the use of ePing can be sent to usatbtep [at] nist.gov.
- Reviews notifications made by WTO Members to the TBT Committee, and when missing, requests the full-texts from the notifying WTO Member and makes them available via ePing. US stakeholders are encouraged to review notifications and the full-texts associated with them using ePing. To request a full-text not provided by the WTO Member when a notification is made to the TBT Committee and circulated via ePing, please send a message to notifyus [at] nist.gov and include the notification symbol associated with the missing text in the subject.
- Circulates comments and other official communications from U.S. stakeholders on WTO Member notifications to the TBT Committee as well as WTO Member comments (and official communications) on notifications made by the United States to the TBT Committee. Comments from U.S. stakeholders are forwarded to the WTO Member national Inquiry Point and/or regulatory authority and U.S. trade agencies, WTO Member comments and communications are forwarded to the appropriate U.S. regulatory and trade agencies for consideration and response. Prior to submitting comments, U.S. stakeholders are asked to review the Guidance on Comment Submissions by U.S. Stakeholders on Notifications by WTO Members to the TBT Committee.
- Provides information on best practices for Inquiry Point operations to the global network of national WTO TBT Inquiry Points. Further information about transparency and the TBT Agreement are available via the WTO’s transparency toolkit.
The Notification Authority:
Reviews the U.S. Federal Register and U.S. state regulatory proceedings to identify activities concerning standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures which meet certain conditions in the TBT Agreement, including:
- Where there may be significant trade effects (e.g., a new labeling or packaging requirement is introduced, product requirements are introduced or changed); and
- Where the content is not in accordance with the content of relevant internationally-accepted standards and the relevant guides or recommendations issued by international standardizing bodies; or
- Where internationally-accepted standards, guides, or recommendations do not exist.
Notifies to the WTO technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures proposed at the federal level and at the state-level consistent with U.S. obligations under the TBT Agreement.
USA Notification Contact Point for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)
The United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to modernize the 25-year-old NAFTA into a 21st century, high-standard agreement. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) supports mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America.