One of the requirements of the WTO Agreement is that each member shall ensure that at least an enquiry point exists in its territory, which is able to answer all reasonable enquiries from other members and interested parties in other member countries as well as provide relevant documents.
The National Enquiry Point for TBT Matters was set up in the Documentation and Information Centre of MSB and was inaugurated on 8 May 1997.
The duties of this enquiry points are:
Ø To store information on Domestic and Foreign notifications
Ø To disseminate information on all notifications received
Ø To make firm text available upon request for both Domestic and Foreign notifications
Ø To gather comments from stakeholders and submit these to the Notifying Authority
Ø To reply to all reasonable enquiries received within a specific time
It should be remembered that if Technical Regulations and standards are not notified, they could become barriers to International Trade. Technical Regulations should be notified at draft stage at least 60 (sixty) days before it is enforced, so as to give all those concerned, sufficient time to comment on them. However, if for the protection of human health or the environment a regulation could not be notified at draft stage, it should be notified to the WTO even after it is promulgated.
Purpose of exchange of Information
For transparency to prevail, it is very important to exchange information between signatories of the WTO Agreement. When notifications are circulated, stakeholders take cognizance of the existence of a draft proposal for regulation. They are given an opportunity to comment on the draft when amendments can still be considered. In this way, technical barriers are either removed or prevented from International Trade and dispute between WTO members are avoided.