Of late, India has been very proactive in issuing quality control orders in respect of various products imported into India. So, I tried to investigate it a further.
I chanced upon a great site (https://epingalert.org/) which provides a database of all TBT notifications issued by all member countries of WTO.
The database indicated that in 2023 itself, a total of 2651 Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) notifications were issued by as many as 82 countries with USA topping the list with 307 notifications, while India at 8th position with 71 notifications?
The database also indicated that out of 88 Specific Trade Concerns (STC) raised or discussed in WTO’s TBT Committee meetings during 2023, India found itself responding to 22 STCs or 25% of the total STCs, while raising 6 STCs during the same period?
What do these numbers indicate?
Well, for starters, 2651 notifications in first 8 months of 2023 means a lot of countries are now actively using non-tariff barriers (though most may be for permitted purposes but many others may not be). With reduction in tariffs, technical regulations and conditions on imports are likely to increase. Second, in India's context, this is a sign that a lot of India’s TBT notifications (like quality control orders, safety standards, etc) are being closely monitored and questioned by other countries.
While a lot of notifications are being discussed at WTO level, not much is discussed in the public forum (especially Indian forums) about the existence and relevance of Technical Barriers to Trade.
What exactly is a TBT measure? What are the principles and objectives of TBT and how TBT measures may impact trade and stakeholders?
Here’s a short 5-minute video introducing the basics of Technical Barriers to Trade. Well, if you are running short of time, below the video, there's also a SlideShare document to help you navigate through the topics much faster.
If you are interested to learn more about TBT, there are some good resources for TBT:
(1) WTO's webpage on TBT: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tbt_e/tbt_e.htm
Great and easy to navigate site to learn all about TBT. The webpage contains everything you need to know about TBT.
(2) Eping: https://epingalert.org/
Easiest way to keep track of TBT and SPS notifications issued by member countries. You can even register and get daily updates on notifications issued by member countries.
(3) Guide on WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (“TBT Agreement”) by UNCTAD: https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/edmmisc232add22_en.pdf
Until next post, happy reading!