We analyse the content of 555 STCs raised in the TBT committee in the period 1995-2018. We find that: (i) STCs are used to acquire new and higher quality information than that provided merely by notifications; (ii) STCs are used as a monitoring tool, thus making members more accountable; and (iii) STCs facilitate the resolution of trade concerns non-litigiously. By reviewing existing literature, we provide evidence that all this is important because transparency and monitoring reduce trade costs, improve regulatory practices and build and sustain trust.
We also indicate the potential for some reforms to improve the efficiency of the system. These include: introducing a reporting system on the outcome of STCs, use of STCs raised in committees to fill the gap of missing notifications, systematic use of the STC mechanism at the stage of draft measures, building-in the dispute settlement system the requirement to raise the matter and discuss it within the relevant committee before filing a formal dispute settlement case.
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