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WTO issues information note on technical barriers to trade discussions relating to COVID-19

Yesterday, the WTO Secretariat issued a new information note providing an overview of discussions within the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) relating to COVID-19.

The note points out that 34 WTO members have submitted 225 COVID-19 related notifications to the TBT Committee, accounting for 46 per cent of all WTO notifications relating to COVID-19. The notifications mostly deal with the extraordinary and temporary streamlining of certification and related procedures and the introduction of new regulatory requirements for medical goods in response to the pandemic.

The majority (68 per cent) of the COVID-19 related notifications covered regulations on medical goods such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. A substantial number of the notified measures were reported as temporary — generally applying for a period of six months or one year, or for the duration of the public health emergency.

The note also points out that since the TBT Committee meeting in May 2020, WTO members referred to the pandemic in 54 specific trade concerns, the vast majority of which were not linked to COVID-19 related notifications or medical goods but rather addressed the significant impacts of the pandemic on members’ economies.

Several members also shared their experience on COVID-19 related matters in the TBT  Committee, including trade facilitating measures and regulatory flexibilities introduced during the pandemic, technical assistance and capacity building projects, development of standards and improved access to them, and the role of accreditation.

The note is available here.