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:
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:
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 Inquiry Point for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
The NAFTA was signed in 1992 by Canada, Mexico, and the United States and entered into force on January 1, 1994. It created the world’s largest free trade area, which links 454 million consumers.
NAFTA’s Standards Related Measures (SRM) Committee was created in 1994 as a forum for the resolution of standards and conformity assessment issues that impact trade among the three NAFTA partners. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is the U.S. member of the SRM committee. The committee operates under Chapter 9 of the NAFTA Agreement and adheres to the 15 articles in that chapter for guidance in harmonizing standards and conformity assessment procedures. NIST provides technical background needed to resolve potential technical barriers to trade in the area of standards and conformity assessment and operates the U.S. Inquiry Point for NAFTA.