Improved regulatory expertise will enhance trade: experts

Delegates discuss ways to enhance regulators’ expertise as it relates to the WTO agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) in the Asia-Pacific region at a workshop held in HCM City on August 21. — VNS Photo Bo Xuan Hiep

Improving the ability of regulators to conform to the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will help APEC economies avoid trade impediments and have better access to international markets, experts said at a workshop held on Monday in HCM City.

Ninety delegates from 21 APEC-member economies met to discuss ways to improve regulatory expertise and skills in developing technical regulations. The workshop was held within the framework of the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 3) now being held in the city.

Nguyen Van Khoi, deputy director general of Viet Nam’s Department of Standards, Standardisation, Metrology and Quality under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said: “We hope that economies will be able to use the information provided by the workshop to produce higher quality regulations and reduce the chances that proposed measures could impede trade.”

The TBT Agreement aims to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to businesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs in Viet Nam face many challenges in applying the TBT Agreement, according to Khôi, who chaired the workshop.

“The workshop is expected to have benefits for all APEC economies and for the multilateral trading system as a whole,” Khoi told Viet Nam News.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Devin McDaniels, economic affairs officer at WTO’s Trade and Environment Division, said: “APEC members at the workshop are sharing different experiences in applying the TBT agreement and the use of good regulatory practices.”

Participants discussed how trade rules created by regulators, particularly from larger economies, affected other less developed economies who must follow them.

“Regulators can learn from one another and the different approaches they use to develop rules that are business-friendly and don’t impact trade too much,” he said.

The challenge is the varying level of capacity and experience that exist among APEC economies, according to McDaniel.

“Some economies have a long experience in applying the TBT agreement, using good regulatory practices and following standards, while some are newer and are still learning,” he said.

Not every economy has the same priorities in protecting health and safety of the environment for their citizens, for example, so each economy decides how they want to achieve those objectives, he added.

Challenges

“I think one challenge for Viet Nam is applying international standards. For smaller economies or less developed economies, one of the challenges is the capacity and resources to apply the standards and to enforce them,” he told Viet Nam News.

Because some standards are inappropriate for some economies because of different development levels, each economy has to take into account the benefits of international standards that would allow easier access to markets for their exports, according to McDaniels.

The project, “Enhancing Regulator Expertise on the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade” aims to identify the best practices to implement necessary and effective regulations as well as the best approaches for regulatory cooperation.

The workshop will hold a panel discussion on August 22 on the private sector’s perspective on development, adoption and implementation of technical regulations, and conformity-assessment procedures. — VNS




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