The Standards Alliance, a public-private partnership between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), recently hosted a conference, "High Level Symposium to Enhance Regulator Expertise on the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade," in conjunction with the Secretariat of Economy of Mexico (SE) on February 9-10 in Mexico City. Experts provided presentations and led discussions on a variety of topics related to good regulatory practices and regulatory cooperation to an audience that included over 70 Mexican regulators, in addition to U.S. companies, organizations, and federal agencies.
The symposium was an opportunity for leaders from the U.S. and Mexico to offer viewpoints from their respective agencies and private-sector organizations, which included the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), UL, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), and Intertek, in addition to ANSI staff. Mexican regulators included representatives from Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement (COFEMER), Secretariat of Economy of Mexico (SE), and Direccion General de Normas (DGN). The World Trade Organization (WTO) also participated in the discussions.
Key topics included:
Relevance of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade
Regulatory Impact Assessment and Cost-Benefit Risk Analysis
Technical Regulations - How to Develop, Adopt, and Implement Qualitative, Necessary, and Effective Regulations?
The WTO Jurisprudence on TBT Disciplines Regarding Technical Regulations and Standards
Different Approaches to Conformity Assessment, Including: How to Ensure That We Choose the Best Conformity Assessment Procedures Available, Given our Options
Advancing Implementation TBT and Regulatory Coherence in Trade Agreements and the Work of the WTO TBT Committee
Regulatory Cooperation: When and How to Use It?
The Private-Sector Perspective Regarding the Elaboration, Adoption, and Implementation of Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures
Jeff Weiss, senior advisor for standards and global regulatory policy of the Office of the Secretary at the DOC, noted in his keynote remarks that the high-level symposium comes at an exciting time for regulatory cooperation. Mr. Weiss identified several advancements and strategic opportunities including those in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in which both Mexico and the U.S. participate.
About Standards Alliance
The Standards Alliance was announced by USAID in November 2012 as a new funding facility designed to provide capacity-building assistance to developing countries, specifically related to implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. The main objectives of the program, which will inform the activities to be conducted, include: increased understanding of WTO TBT principles; implementation of the code of good practice for the preparation, adoption and application of standards, improved transparency in the development and/or modification of technical regulations, and more robust and transparent engagement with the private sector in standards development and use.