Welcome to WTO - TBT Enquiry Point (India)

Each World Trade Organisation member must set up a national enquiry point which is able to answer all reasonable inquiries from other members and interested parties as well as providing the relevant documents concerning standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures whether impending or adopted, as well as on participation in bilateral or plurilateral standard-related agreements,regional standardizing bodies and conformity assessment systems.

Ministry of Commerce, the nodal ministry for WTO matters in India, has designated Bureau of Indian Standards as the WTO TBT Enquiry Point for India for all queries except those related to the telecom sector (for which the TBT Enquiry Point is Telecommunication Engineering Centre - TEC)

In recent years, the number of technical regulations and standards adopted by countries has grown significantly. The need to comply with different foreign technical regulations and standards certainly involves significant costs for producers and exporters. In general,these costs arise from the translation of foreign regulations, hiring of technical experts to explain foreign regulations, and adjustment of production facilities to comply with the requirements. In addition, there is the need to prove that the exported product meets the foreign regulations. The high costs involved may discourage manufacturers from trying to sell abroad. In the absence of international disciplines,a risk exists that technical regulations and standards could be adopted and applied solely to protect domestic industries.

What are the sources of technical barriers to trade?

Technical barriers to trade generally result from the preparation, adoption and application of different technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures. If a producer in country A wants to export to country B, he will be obliged to satisfy the technical requirements that apply in country B, with all the financial consequences this entails. Differences between one country and another in their technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures may, however, have legitimate origins also.

The TBT Agreement takes into account the existence of legitimate divergences of taste, income, geographical and other factors between countries. For these reasons, the Agreement accords to Members a high degree of flexibility in the preparation, adoption and application of their national technical regulations. The Preamble to the Agreement states that "no country should be prevented from taking measures necessary to ensure the quality of its exports, or for the protection of human, animal, and plant life or health, of the environment, or for the prevention of deceptive practices, at the levels that technical regulations "are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating unnecessary obstacles to trade".

The TBT Agreement may be accessed from the WTO Web site also

As per the Agreement on Technical Barriers to trade, member countries can review and comment on each other's proposed regulations while the regulations are still in the draft stage and subject to revision. In this way, international transparency, international harmonization of standards, and international free trade are encouraged. Interested stakeholders are requested to see the WTO TBT Notifications from the WTO website. The TBT Notifications may be accessed from Documents Online from WTO website http://www.wto.org . Alternatively, TBT Notifications may be accesed by clicking on the following hyperlink, http://docsonline.wto.org/gen_search.asp?searchmode=advanced. The Notifications may be examined on the following aspects:

Are these Notifications in accordance with International Standards ?
Are the requirements trade restrictive ?
Are they stricter than International Standards than necessary to meet the legitimate objectives of:
Protection of human health or safety
Protection of Animal or Plant life or health
Protection of Environment
Prevention of deceptive practices
Are these Scientifically Justified ?

Comments, if any may be forwarded to WTO TBT Enquiry Point at the following address:

International Relations & Technical Information Services Department
Bureau of Indian Standards, Manak Bhavan,
9 Bahadur Shah Marg,
New Delhi-110002 - India
Telephones: + (91 11) 232 30 342 / 232 31 082
Fax: + (91 11) 232 39 399
E-mail id: tbtenquiry@bis.gov.in