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New Global Trade Alert System to Boost Access for Developing Nations

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The world’s major trade bodies want to make regulatory requirements easier to digest.

The United Nations, the World Trade Organization and the International Trade Commission launched a new online alert system this week called, “ePing” in an effort to facilitate and promote trade.

With the new system, users can have access to WTO members’ notifications on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), an agreement that ensures technical regulations and standards are non-discriminatory and don’t inhibit trade. It will also keep users up to date on any relevant notifications affecting foreign markets and facilitate dialogue on potential trade problems early on.

The amount of standards and regulations different countries have adopted in recent years has swelled to a level that makes managing them all a challenge for manufacturers and exporters, not to mention the rising costs to comply. More than 3,500 TBT and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) notifications on new measures come in each year and the WTO said it wants to improve access to that info.

“Accessing relevant information on product requirements in export markets can be a huge challenge, especially for SMEs,” WTO deputy director-general Karl Brauner, said. “More transparency makes trade more inclusive—making information on regulations and standards more accessible for all stakeholders is essential. That is what ePing is all about.”

Changes to technical requirements, like labeling, safety, environmental performance and testing procedures for products can happen fairly frequently, and WTO members have to make sure these new or revised requirements don’t create what the WTO calls “unnecessary obstacles” to international trade.

Users can go into the ePing system and set alerts that can be emailed to them based on exactly what they may need to know about—maybe any changes in Kenya or alerts on anything distributed between Nov. 10 and Dec. 10 or notifications on anything connected to a particular HS code.

“ePing is about moving from making trade possible to making it happen,” said Arancha Gonzalez, executive director of the International Trade Centre. “Using information technology we will help small and medium businesses comply with product regulations in foreign markets and thereby reduce obstacles to trade.”

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