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Hub Facilitates Implementation of the WTO Notification System by EAC Partner States

Published on June 22, 2017

As part of the Hub’s work of facilitating implementation of the US-EAC Cooperation Agreement the Hub conducted a national stakeholder’s workshop on TBT/SPS online Notification Submission System (NSS) on June 19-20 in Nairobi, Kenya. The objective of the workshop was to train officials from ministries and government institutions responsible for implementation and administration of World Trade Organization (WTO) TBT and SPS Agreements. The twelve officials trained are directly involved in developing technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures and SPS measures,  

“Enhancing skills, awareness and building capacity on the practicality of notifications brings harmony between the notifications from WTO NSS System and the National Notifications Authority (NNA),” said Phyllis Githaiga, Assistant Coordinator for Trading Standards at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

 “Apart from building capacity of government ministries and agencies that formulate regulations to meet the transparency obligations to WTO, there is need to ensure that more agencies are brought on board in order to get more diverse submissions,” said George Opiyo, Training Facilitator.

The Hub will conduct more national training workshops in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania to ensure all EAC Partner States are able to easily submit these notifications using the NSS System, leading to a better regional and international trading and investment environment.

Background

The WTO TBT/SPS Notification Submission System (NSS) is an online notification system used by WTO member countries to submit TBT and SPS updates to the WTO Secretariat. The WTO Agreements on TBT and SPS contain provisions on transparency requirements and procedures. These transparency provisions aim to achieve a greater degree of clarity, predictability and information exchange about trade policies, rules and regulations of WTO members. Notifications is the main instrument for improved transparency. Currently, East African Community (EAC) Partner States share their TBT and SPS notifications with the WTO through the WTO TBT/SPS NSS,  as an e-mail attachment, fax or as regular mail. The notification is then processed by WTO Secretariat and finally disseminated to stakeholders within WTO members using different methods, including the ePing electronic alert system. However, these different methods lead to incomplete submissions.  The WTO TBT/SPS NSS system addresses these issues, making sure that a common template is used by all WTO member states, ensuring the complete submission of information.   The WTO TBT/SPS NSS system is complementary to the ePing system which has been successfully implemented in the EAC region with support from the Hub.

The U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement requires EAC Partner States to establish an effective process to ensure that they notify proposed measures on TBT/SPS to other members of WTO. Compliance with the Agreement will ensure that EAC Partner States have an effective notification processes and that they comply with the requirements under WTO Agreements on TBT and SPS. In order to implement this, there is need to train national notification authorities, enquiry points and relevant regulatory authorities on how to submit domestic notifications to other WTO members using the WTO’s TBT/SPS online NSS system.