Technical Barriers to Trade
Interdepartmental Coordination and Advisory Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
The main objectives of the Interdepartmental Coordination and Advisory Committee on TBT is to share information and experiences on the domestic implementation of the WTO Agreement on TBT , improve coordination on regulatory activities and to plan and prepare for trade negotiations.
The Interdepartmental Coordination and Advisory Committee on TBT consists of government departments that are responsible for and public entities that deal with standards, technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures, metrology and accreditation. This includes the
- South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)
- National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS)
- National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA)
- South African National Accreditation System (SANAS)
- Department of Trade and Industry (the dti)
- Department of Agriculture
- Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)
- Department of Energy (DOE)
- Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)
- Department of Health (DOH)
- Department of Labour (DOL)
- Department of Mineral Resources (DMR)
- Department of Communications (DOC)
- Department of Transport (DoT)
- Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
The SABS, NRCS, NMISA and SANAS are all public entities reporting to the dti and are also known as the technical or quality infrastructure entities.
the dti Market Access Unit and the Technical Infrastructure Unit are responsible for the Secretariat work.
For any technical queries relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO) TBT Agreement and the Interdepartmental Coordination and Advisory Committee on TBT, contact:
Kissinger Ntsako Nkuna
Assistant Director: Market Access
International Trade and Economic Development Division
Department of Trade and Industry
Private Bag X 84
Tel: +27 12 394 5855
Fax: +27 12 394 6855
For information on the South African National Technical Infrastructure Institutions and the Interdepartmental Coordination and Advisory Committee on TBT, contact:
Innocent Sbu Khumalo
Deputy Director: Technical Infrastructure
Industrial Development Division
Department of Trade and Industry
Private Bag X 84
Tel: +27 12 394 3566
Fax: +27 12 394 4566
World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement recognises the right of WTO members to implement measures to achieve legitimate policy objectives. These policy objectives include the protection of national security, the protection of human health and safety, protection of animal or plant life or health, protection of the environment, prevention of deceptive practices.
Furthermore, the Agreement lays down provisions to ensure that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.
The TBT Agreement encourages WTO members to base their measures on international standards as a means to facilitate trade. One of the important obligations of WTO members is to comply with the transparency provision of the WTO Agreement on TBT that requires Members to notify draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures to trading partners and the WTO through the National TBT Enquiry Point.
the dti Market Access Unit is responsible for the implementation and administration of the WTO Agreement on TBT and should ensure that South Africa complies with its WTO TBT transparency obligations and to prevent that technical regulations, national standards and conformity assessment procedures create unnecessary obstacles to international trade. For more information, click on www.wto.org/
The Legal text of the WTO Agreement on TBT :
- The WTO Agreement on TBT webpage: www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tbt_e/tbt_e.htm
the dti (Technical Infrastructure Unit)
the dti Technical Infrastructure Unit ensures that South Africa’s technical infrastructure meets with domestic, regional and international market demands, complies with international standards, technical regulations and best practices. The unit is responsible for policy development and strategic direction in area of technical infrastructure by closely working with the Technical Infrastructure entities namely SANAS, SABS, NRCS and NMISA.
The Technical Infrastructure entities:
- South African National Accreditation System (SANAS)SANAS is South Africa’s sole national accreditation body, responsible for carrying out accreditations in respect of conformity assessment, as mandated through the Accreditation for Conformity Assessment, Calibration and Good Laboratory Practice Act (Act 19 of 2006). Its primary role is to provide an internationally recognised and effective accreditation system, and to give formal recognition that laboratories, certification bodies, inspection bodies, proficiency testing scheme providers and good laboratory practice (GLP) test facilities are competent to carry out specific tasks.
- National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS)NRCS was established in accordance with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act, 2008 (Act No. 5 of 2008). The legislative mandate of the NRCS is derived from the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act, (Act no. 5 of 2008), the Legal Metrology Act, (Act No. 9 of 2014), the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, (Act No. 103 of 1977).
It administers compulsory specifications and other technical regulations on behalf of the dti to protect human health and safety as well as the environment, and ensure fair trade in accordance with government policies and guidelines.
- National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA)NMISA operates in accordance with the Measurement Units and Measurement Standards Act, 2006 (Act No. 18 of 2006). It is responsible for aligning the national measurement system with the international measurement system. This is done through the development, maintenance and dissemination of the national measurement standards and ensuring its traceability throughout the measurement value chain.
- South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)The SABS is a statutory body that was established in terms of the Standards Act, 1945 (Act No. 24 of 1945), and continues to operate in terms of the latest edition of the Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 8 of 2008). The products and services offered by the SABS facilitate trade with foreign markets, and provide South Africa with standards as well as conformity assessment services such as testing and certification, within specific industry sectors, to ensure the safety and functionality of goods and services.
The Economic Impact and Intellectual Property Department, (formerly the Standards Information Centre) at the South African Bureau of Standards has been appointed as the WTO TBT Enquiry Point in South Africa by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The WTO TBT Enquiry Point is responsible for the functions of an enquiry point as decided by the TBT Committee and serves as the focal point for disseminating information to concerned regulatory departments and authorities on South Africa’s obligations under the TBT Agreement.
The South African WTO TBT Enquiry point contact details are as follows:
The South African WTO/TBT Enquiry Point:
Economic Impact and IP Department
South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)
1 Dr Lategan Road, Groenkloof
Private Bag X191
Tel.: +27 12 428 6561
Many Government departments have mandates and legislation that they enforce via technical regulations or compulsory specifications. These regulatory overlaps often result in areas of uncertainty and confusion for stakeholders.
Inefficiencies in the current operating environment have been regularly identified especially when market failures are communicated to a regulator by industry associations and/or consumer organisations as well as when Government departments request a particular regulator to develop a technical regulation. The NRCS R&D Regulatory Activity Matrix is a valuable tool, especially when a request is received for a new technical regulation/compulsory specification to be drawn up.
In executing a feasibility study for the development of a technical regulation, insight in current regulatory regimes are required in order to identify possible regulatory mandate overlaps and conflicts that may arise.
The information required is easily accessible from the regulatory matrix and will assist Government departments and regulators alike to interact pro-actively with their appropriate counterparts and avoid overlap and conflict by clearly defining the role-players and responsibilities. Access to accurate information will ensure smooth functioning of workflow and avoid unnecessary delays due to unclear roles.
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