The WTO and transparency

Transparency is essential to ensure open and fair trade, stresses the World Trade Organization (WTO), based in Geneva, Switzerland.

When WTO Members properly communicate to their partners about policy and regulatory changes affecting foreign trade, their trade prospects improve.

The WTO is working to improve the ability of technical assistance recipients to meet their transparency obligations, including the notification of new trade measures.

New TBT notifications by level of development (2012-2021)

Technical Assistance aimed at promoting transparency seeks to reduce the number of notifications that beneficiary Members have pending.

In 2021, these had on average 23.6 notifications pending, a figure well below the 2016/2018 average of 28, which is the period used as a benchmark to measure the outcome of the assistance provided.

The sustained improvement can be attributed to the active work of Members and the increase in notifications on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Agriculture and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights submitted by Members.

The WTO organized 15 transparency-related activities in 2021, benefiting 583 participants from 83 Members and observers.

Nine national activities were also held in Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Djibouti, St. Lucia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Africa and Vietnam.

They addressed the various notification obligations and transparency provisions and tools of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.


In Latin America and the Middle East, regional activities related to online submission systems and subsidy notifications were held.

Global activities addressed sanitary and phytosanitary measures, import licensing and agriculture-related notifications.

The number of notifications submitted by technical assistance recipients has increased substantially in recent years.

TBT notifications are a good example: the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) submitted 63% more such notifications in 2021 than in 2020, which represents a significant jump compared to the 5% growth recorded between 2019 and 2020.

In total, developing and LDC WTO Members submitted 85% of new TBT notifications in 2021.

In addition, African Members were particularly active in submitting TBT notifications in 2021: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda were among the top 10 Members submitting the most.


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