Providing proposed technical regulations for review and comment as a means to promote fair trade and reduce business risk
USA Inquiry 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 inquiry 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 proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures so interested parties can become acquainted with them and have an opportunity to submit written comments. The inquiry 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 Inquiry Point:
- Distributes all WTO TBT notifications (3,354 in 2020 and in 3,966 2021) to thousands of U.S. industry, government, and trade stakeholders via the free, web-based e-mail registration service, Notify U.S. E-mail alerts from the Notify U.S. service will be discontinued sometime in the second half of calendar year 2022. Notify U.S. users are encouraged to register for and use the WTO’s ePing SPS & TBT Platform at https://epingalert.org/ to follow and track notifications and to receive e-mail alerts. Current, active Notify U.S. users will receive notice prior to the discontinuation of notification alerts. ePing is available to all stakeholders and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive e-mail alerts.
- Provides the full texts of the standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures (which are summarized in the notifications) to inform traders and other stakeholders of the basis and objective for the proposed measures
- Circulates U.S. and WTO Member comments on standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures; comments are forwarded to the appropriate U.S. regulatory agency for consideration or to the WTO Member national Inquiry Point as required
- Responds to technical inquiries on U.S. and international standards- and trade-related topics
- Provides information on best practices for Inquiry Point operations to the global network of national WTO TBT Inquiry Points.
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.