The world at our doorstep

IEC welcomes delegates from the WTO

By Aliyah Esmail

In early June 2013 the IEC welcomed a delegation from the WTO (World Trade Organization). Twenty-six delegates took part in the Advanced Thematic Course on Technical Barriers to Trade, given by the WTO, at the IEC Central Office. They were also given presentations on the IEC, its Conformity Assessment Systems and Affiliate Country Programme.

P1040012 copy
Delegates from the WTO visit the IEC and learn about standards for electrotechnology

Eliminating hurdles to global trade

Today innovation is accelerating, technologies are converging and industries are increasingly global. In this context standards are growing in importance. Every WTO signatory state – 159 to date – agree to ensure that international standards are used as the technical basis for their laws and regulations. For electric and electronic devices and systems these countries rely largely on IEC International Standards, which facilitate technology transfer, quality control and conformity assessment.

The WTO TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement aims to reduce hurdles to trade that can result from differences between national regulations and standards. The Agreement recognizes the important contribution that international standards and conformity assessment systems can make in improving the efficiency of production and facilitating international trade.

Leveling the market place for developing countries

The IEC Affiliate Country Programme is geared to help developing countries to comply with the WTO TBT Agreement. IEC Affiliates are able to participate and adopt 200 IEC International Standards totally free of charge.

Active involvement and understanding of standards and conformity assessment increases a country’s ability to benefit from technology transfer. It also helps in building a reliable energy supply and integrating renewable energies.

Generally, participating countries benefit from better safety and risk assessment. Some of them are able to trade products with partners in developed countries.

Today many products are no longer made in one country; they are made in the world from components and parts that are manufactured in many different places. All parts that are used in these products need to work reliably together. Countries that work with IEC International Standards are able to extract bigger value from these global value chains, both in terms of employment and overall economic development.

WTO delegation visits the IEC Central Office

The IEC has now become an integral part of the specific TBT programme that the WTO organizes periodically for its delegates. Attendees at this session were in Geneva with the common aim of learning how to apply the WTO TBT Agreement in their relevant area of expertise.

Making the world go around

Delegates came from South America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe. Some of the delegates are also Affiliates including the representatives from the Botswana Bureau of Standards, the Seychelles Bureau of Standards, and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.

Learning about the IEC

The delegation started the morning with presentations on the IEC by Gabriel Barta (IEC Head of Technical Coordination), IEC Conformity Assessment by David Hanlon (IEC CAB Secretary) and the IEC Affiliate Country Programme by Françoise Rauser (IEC Affiliate Country Programme Executive Secretary).

The delegation finished the afternoon with Devin McDaniel’s (Economic Affairs Officer at the WTO's Trade and Environment Division) presentation on Good Regulatory Practices and Regulatory Cooperation.

Following this visit, the IEC presented its report to the WTO TBT Committee, which gave the Commission a chance to talk about the work that it is doing and how it has helped to advance trade. The IEC was represented by Françoise Rauser who is in charge of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme and liaison with the WTO.

P1040012 copy Delegates from the WTO visit the IEC and learn about standards for electrotechnology
fam-3_WTO_delegates_presentation_large Gabriel Barta (left), Francoise Rauser (centre), and David Hanlon (right) present the IEC to WTO delegates
WTO Tajikistan and Lao PDR joined the WTO in 2013 making the membership 159 countries strong