Transparency and TBT

Issue 19 – August 2010

On 22 June 2010, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (the TBT Committee) held its sixth information exchange meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Held on a biennial basis, these regular meetings provide WTO members with an opportunity to discuss issues relating to notification procedures and operations of the enquiry points for WTO member countries.

Standards Solutions Specialist Craig Radford, who manages New Zealand's TBT enquiry point through Standards New Zealand, was one of the speakers for a panel session on transparency in Standard setting. Radford's speech, 'Transparency in Standard-setting: The New Zealand Experience', focused on transparency in governance, the committee process, development of Standards, and the need for good communications.

Radford says that at the heart of transparent Standards development processes in New Zealand is the New Zealand Standards Act 1988. The Act established the Standards Council as a Crown entity and requires the Standards Council to invite public comment and consultation. It also requires the council to cooperate with central and local government, persons engaged in industry, trade, commerce, consumer groups, and others to ensure that decisions on specific Standards are supported by the organisations and people who have an interest in the Standard.

He says, 'transparency throughout the committee process and development of a Standard is key'.

In his presentation, Radford emphasised the fact that New Zealand Standards development is in keeping with the TBT Agreement.

'New Zealand looks first to adopt international Standards as a solution to standardisation,' he says. 'Standards that are jointly developed with Australia are a second option, and national Standards are created only if international Standards are not appropriate.'

Radford concluded his presentation by noting that transparency is one of the cornerstones of good Standard development.

'Standards New Zealand has worked to include transparency in many aspects of the development and publication of Standards.'

Visit Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) service to learn more.

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