Standards and regulations notified to WTO in response to COVID-19
A World Trade Organization Information Note (20 May) describes the standards and regulations that members have notified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, submitted under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).
WTO Members can adopt emergency measures and notify them to the WTO without the usual 60-day comment period (or six-month transition period prior to entry into force). However, they still need to comply with the SPS and TBT Agreements (avoiding discriminatory or unnecessary barriers to trade, ensuring a scientific basis for measures, and harmonising with international standards).
90% of the emergency COVID-related measures were identified as trade-facilitating, and around half are reported as temporary, often applying for a period of six months.
Around two-thirds of notifications by WTO members in response to COVID-19 are related to standards and regulations (TBT and SPS). These have been notified by 27 members.
The standards, regulations and related measures notified by WTO members mainly affect trade in personal protective equipment (PPE), food, live animals and medical equipment.
The notified measures fall into four broad categories: streamlining certification procedures; ensuring that medical goods are safe; making food available by relaxing technical regulations; and addressing COVID-19 risks from international trade in live animals.