Ten years of the TBT enquiry point
Founded in 2009, the National TBT Enquiry Point was established on the basis of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) concluded by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Among the goals of the agreement are prevention of the creation of unnecessary technical obstacles to international trade and the promotion of global harmonization and mutual recognition.
Within the framework of the “National TBT Enquiry Point”, DAkkS provides answers to a wide range of questions on technical trade barriers asked by companies in relation to accreditation or conformity assessment issues. Because in addition to technical regulations defining the characteristics of products or manufacturing processes, conformity assessment procedures can also constitute potential technical barriers to trade. In particular, the process of auditing and demonstrating conformity and the mutual recognition of certifications in the recipient countries frequently involve problems and delays in bringing products to market.
David Richter, member of staff at Division II Fundamental Issues and contact person for the TBT enquiry point at DAkkS, talks about the sheer variety of the enquiries received: “The enquiries range from general questions about accreditation bodies to very specific concerns. We have had for example questions concerning the potential accreditation of testing laboratories in China, the need for accreditation of test laboratories in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025 for connectors in the automotive industry, and the recognition of test reports in Germany by an importer of carbon fibre wheelchairs from Taiwan”.
The establishment of a national TBT enquiry point is governed by Article 10 of the TBT Agreement “Information About Technical Regulations, Standards and Conformity Assessment Procedures”, which requires WTO Members to establish a national enquiry point. The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) is a multilateral agreement administered by the WTO.