1. About the World Trade Organization (WTO)
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is an international entity and it deals with the rules of trade between nations at a global level. It forms a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements and settle trade disputes, and it operates through a system of agreed trade rules.
At the core of the WTO operations are agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations. These documents which essentially are contracts binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits provide the legal ground-rules for international commerce.
The WTO agreements:
- Cover goods, services and intellectual property.
- Spell out the principles of liberalization and the permitted exceptions.
- Include individual countries’ commitments to lower customs tariffs and other trade barriers, and to open and keep open services markets.
- Set procedures for settling disputes.
- Prescribe special treatment for developing countries.
- Require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted, and through regular reports by the secretariat on countries’ trade policies.
2. Technical Regulations and Standards
Technical regulations and standards may vary from country to country or from region to region and having too many different standards can make life difficult for producers and exporters. If standards are set arbitrarily, they could be used as an excuse for protectionism. If not properly monitored standards have a potential of being used to create obstacles to trade.
The Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) tries to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.
The agreement does take into consideration countries’ rights to set standards that may be seen as being essential, especially those that address issues pertaining to the protection of human and animal life and for the protection of the environment. To avoid diversity the agreement encourages the adoption and use of international standards where these are appropriate, but without them having to change their levels of protection as a result.
The agreement sets out a code of good practice for the preparation, adoption and application of standards by central government bodies. E.g. methods that would give domestically produced goods an unfair advantage are discouraged. Countries are also encouraged to recognize each others’ testing procedures. Manufacturers and exporters need to know what the latest standards are in their markets, and t help ensure that such information is made available, a WTO member governments are required to establish national enquiry points.
WTO Technical Regulation Notifications - click here to read
The Quality Assurance Department will be the custodians of the SWASA mark for quality as it is through this department that quality testing and certification will be carried out. The department’s functionality will depend on local industry utilizing the Swazi National Standards that will have been developed by the Technical Department and further seeking to be certified ...
SWASA will be disseminating standards addressing technical problems in various sectors and will be encompassing many professions. People involved in these sectors and others will be invited o partake in Technical Committees. The sectors already identified are:
- Fresh Produce
- Prepackaged stuff ...
- In order for the people to be able to implement the standards, they must understand exactly what is implied in the various paragraphs within the standard. Standards-based training may be facilitated by SWASA staff or it may be done by a subcontracting company. Based on the type of standards that are on demand it is envisaged that SWASA may offer more than 10 courses per year. Training on standards forms part of the Standards Marketing Strategy of SWASA, since, as more people understand standards, the more they will be willing to implement them ...
The Swaziland Standards Authority’s Information Centre is a reference point for technical information on standards and quality issues within the Technical Department, and its basic objective is to provide a means for acquiring and disseminating information on standards and related matters from and to the stakeholders. Information is availed to SWASA clients and general public through the print media, radio, the SWASA website www.swasa.co.sz and by visiting the Centre ...