ePing platform helping countries keep track of assorted requirements, transforming communication and comment
The world's trading system is a massive, complex force. And keeping abreast of the current and emerging regulations that govern countries’ trade in goods is an undertaking not to be taken lightly.
For Least Developed Countries (LDCs), obtaining needed regulatory information for their exports and conveying their rules on imports can be even more difficult because of lack of infrastructure, human capacity and access to technology, among others.
Under the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) agreements, member governments need to inform the WTO before adopting new product requirements, which can range from pesticide residue limits to labelling rules. Those countries also need to provide their trading partners with an opportunity to comment.
The result: thousands of notifications and timelines for comment to track.
"More than 4,000 SPS and TBT notifications were circulated in 2017 and the numbers are growing. This is on the one hand a good thing as it means that countries, including an increasing number of LDCs, are notifying and are being transparent. But it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of this wealth of information, let alone provide comments in time," said the WTO’s Serra Ayral.
Recognizing that countries' requirements for trade in agriculture or electronics change, and that there were lags in needed notifications getting to the right parties, the WTO in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) created a simple, streamlined solution.
ePing is an online platform that immediately alerts those registered, including exporters, businesses, trade ministries and policy makers, when notifications of particular interest to them are circulated. Users can search for regulations and filter their results according to countries and specific products.
The pilot version was initially developed by UNDESA’s Committee for Development Policy (CDP) Secretariat in light of assessments carried out in LDCs, in particular pilot countries Uganda, The Gambia, Lesotho and Nepal. The research showed that stakeholders were not accessing crucial information contained in notifications in a timely manner.
Now, ePing is filling that void.