‘WTO’ standards and regulations (WTO)

The WTO is the World Trade Organisation, based in Geneva, dating from 1994. Individual countries are members, and the EU, and three ‘customs territories’ of China.

This document gives a useful account of ‘trading on WTO terms’ and ‘WTO rules’ – here.

If a trade deal is not signed with the EU to take effect 1st January 2021, then the UK and the EU will trade with one another on WTO terms, the WTO rules already applying.

In the WTO, countries are free to choose the standards and regulations they adopt, with some conditions. They are encouraged to use internationally recognised standards. Or they can set their own provided they can justify the standards with scientific evidence and risk assessment. The purpose is to ensure the standards are genuine, not arbitrary or an excuse to be protectionist. [extract from the further information below link]

Further information about ‘WTO’ standards and regulations is set out – here.

We (Cardinal Environment) will (for 1st Jan 2021) add the relevant international standards and regulations to the EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists (UK systems).

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification (UK WTO)

The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO members operate amongst themselves an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.

The UK submitted (13 March) information (for circulation to WTO Members) to answer the matter of the ongoing implementation of the United Kingdom’s obligations under this WTO SPS Agreement during the transition period following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and to set out the UK’s own SPS Regulatory System.

The UK ceased to be a member State of the European Union on 31 January 2020. The UK and the EU agreed a Withdrawal Agreement which provides for a time-limited transition period until 1 January 2021 during which European Union law, as implemented through the Withdrawal Agreement, will continue to apply to and in the United Kingdom.

This means that the European Union SPS regime continues to apply in the United Kingdom during the transition period and, following that, the United Kingdom will apply its own SPS regime.

The United Kingdom Parliament legislated to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 by means of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The 2018 Act preserves, and incorporates into domestic law, those elements of European Union law which will apply in the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in turn implements the Withdrawal Agreement (which provides for the transition period) including by amending the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to reflect the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK SPS Regulatory System is set out in the Notice – here

The UK Government is responsible for matters pertaining to the SPS Agreement and international trade. However, powers to implement, regulate and assure food safety, animal and plant health including matters relating to import and export, are devolved by the UK Parliament to the respective administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (collectively referred to as the Devolved Administrations).

UK exits the EU (WTO goods schedules)

UPDATE (3) : objections also lodged by other countries

UPDATE (2) : objection is lodged by New Zealand – here. Earlier feedback is here.

UPDATE (1) : UK has now (end July 2018) submitted its WTO services schedules; and its GPA (procurement agreement) schedules to WTO and GPA members.

Yesterday 24th July, both the UK and the EU each filed their (goods) documents at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EU said it will renegotiate its WTO trade commitments (to account for the UK exit from the 28-nation bloc) under Article 28 of GATT, a lengthy process involving the other WTO members – here.

The UK said it will make technical changes to its current WTO commitments (presently encompassed within those of the 28-nation bloc) via a 1980 procedure known as a technical rectification – here. The proposed UK Schedule referred to is here.

The WTO Press Release is here. WTO Members have three months to review the UK Schedule, and the UK Schedule is considered approved if there are no objections.

Background

The UK is already a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is one of the founder members of both the WTO and its predecessor, the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – the “GATT”.

As with every other member of the WTO (and if outside the EU-28 bloc that has its own schedules), the UK would require its own “schedule of concessions” for goods and “schedule of specific commitments” for services. These schedules indicate specific commitments and obligations assumed by WTO members on tariff rates and other concessions. They provide predictability concerning market access for trade and are an integral part of the WTO agreements.

UK-specific WTO schedules are underway, which, as far as possible, the UK intends, will not alter the scope of UK market access obligations either in goods (GATT) or services (GATS) schedules.

In goods, this also includes the market access currently enjoyed by trading partners under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) and Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS).

In services, it also means preparing a UK-specific Annex on Article II (Most Favoured Nation Treatment) exemptions under the GATS.

The UK intention is to have WTO schedules on the way to certification by the point of exit from the EU.

The UK Policy Paper – Trade White Paper: Preparing for our future UK trade policy – government response – here – says

Should the goods and services schedules be uncertified as we leave the EU, we do not anticipate there to be any problems – it is not uncommon for WTO members to operate on uncertified schedules for periods of time. In any case we will continue to work for as early a certification point as possible. The EU itself has not had up to date certified schedules since the EC15 enlargement in 1995.

Background reading on Services Schedules is here.