Tires, Toys, Food Among Topics at Trade Barriers Meeting
Tires, toys and food were among the 17 new specific trade concerns and 39 previously raised concerns discussed at a Nov. 4-6 meeting of the World Trade Organization’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade. The total number of trade concerns discussed in the committee this year has risen to 92, the second-highest number in a single year since 1995.
The WTO notes that the TBT Committee provides a forum for dialogue that helps to resolve trade frictions and avoid unnecessary disputes. Trade concerns discussed in this committee can relate to standards, testing and certification procedures, regulations or labeling requirements imposed by the importing country that are considered to have an impact on both producers and consumers.
At last week’s meeting, members raised concerns about regulatory measures introduced by the European Union and Saudi Arabia regarding tires. China questioned the scientific basis for the EU’s method of testing tires and said it would impose significant costs on producers. In response, the EU stated that its test method was based on an international standard and could be carried out in most specialized laboratories. The EU, in turn, raised concerns about Saudi Arabia’s tire labeling requirements and asked for a longer transition period before they are enforced. Saudi Arabia expressed its willingness to discuss this matter bilaterally.
Members also raised concerns about new testing and certification requirements adopted by Brazil and Colombia to address potential safety risks in toys. Canada, the EU and the United States questioned aspects of Brazil’s certification requirements; e.g., asking how audits of toy production facilities would be carried out and emphasizing the need to document on film the testing of toys as a condition for certification. The U.S. and Canada also highlighted concerns about Colombia’s requirement that the testing of its imported toys be carried out in Colombia. Brazil and Colombia responded that they are in the process of addressing members’ concerns but stressed that their measures are in accordance with international practices.
New food-related concerns included the limitation of entry points for apples into India and an EU decision to withdraw “equivalence” recognition of Indian organic products. Some delegations argued that India’s decision to limit the entry of apples to the port of Nhava Sheva would increase delays and create additional costs for producers and exporters, but India said this measure is outside the scope of the TBT Agreement because it is not a technical regulation, standard or conformity assessment procedure. India also asserted that the EU’s decision to no longer recognize the equivalence of India’s organic products is overly burdensome for producers and would hinder trade with the EU, but the EU responded that India had not satisfied provisions contained in the bilateral agreement that recognized such equivalence.