AGREEMENTS: TRANSPARENCY MECHANISM FOR RTAs
Transparency Mechanism for RTAs
December 2006, the General Council established on a provisional basis
a new transparency mechanism for all RTAs. The new transparency
mechanism — negotiated in the Negotiating Group on Rules — provides
for early announcement of any RTA and notification to the WTO. Members
will consider the notified RTAs on the basis of a factual presentation
by the WTO Secretariat.
The Committee on Regional Trade Agreements will consider RTAs falling
under Article XXIV of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
and Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
The Committee on Trade and Development will consider RTAs falling
under the Enabling Clause (trade arrangements between developing
The transparency mechanism is implemented on a provisional basis.
Members are to review, and if necessary modify, the decision, and
replace it by a permanent mechanism adopted as part of the overall
results of the Doha Round.
Procedures to Implement the Transparency Mechanism on RTAs
Members participating in new negotiations
aimed at the conclusion of an RTA should inform the WTO Secretariat of
such negotiations. Members which are parties to a newly signed RTA
should send to the Secretariat information on the RTA, including its
official name, scope, date of signature, any foreseen timetable for its
entry into force or provisional application, relevant contact points
and/or website addresses, and any other relevant unrestricted
information. Members are encouraged to submit information on new
negotiations or newly signed RTAs in electronic form, e.g. email to the
RTA Section of the Secretariat, copy of a relevant press release or
official website address where the information can be found. The
Secretariat will post this information on the WTO website and
periodically provide Members with a synopsis.
The notification of an RTA by Members
should take place as early as possible, in general no later than the
parties' ratification of the RTA or any party's decision on the
application of the relevant parts of an agreement and before the
application of preferential treatment between the parties. Parties
should specify under which provision(s) of the WTO agreements the RTA is
notified and provide the full text and any related schedules, annexes
and protocols, in one of the WTO's official languages. Electronic format
is preferable for these submissions, where possible. Members are
encouraged to use the notification format for RTAs, agreed by the CRTA
WT/REG/16). References to related official internet links
should also be supplied.
The CRTA is responsible for implementing
the Transparency Mechanism (TM) with regard to RTAs falling under GATT
Article XXIV and GATS Article V. The Committee on Trade and Development,
convening in dedicated session, will implement the decision with regard
to notifications falling under the Enabling Clause.
C. Procedures to
The consideration by Members of a
notified RTA shall be normally concluded within one year after the date
of notification. The WTO Secretariat will draw up a precise timetable
for the consideration of the RTA in consultation with the parties at the
time of the notification. Parties to an RTA shall make data (described
in detail in the Annex to the Transparency Decision) available to the
Secretariat, if possible in electronic format, as soon as possible, but
normally within a period of ten weeks (or 20 weeks in the case of RTAs
involving only developing countries) after the date of notification of
As a rule, a single formal meeting will be devoted to the
consideration of each notified RTA; any additional exchange of
information should take place in written form. The WTO Secretariat's
factual presentation, as well as any additional information submitted by
the parties, is to be circulated in all WTO official languages not less
than eight weeks in advance of the relevant CRTA meeting. Members'
written questions or comments on the RTA under consideration are to be
transmitted to the parties through the Secretariat at least four weeks
before the CRTA meeting and will be distributed, together with the
replies, to all Members at least three working days before the meeting.
Any changes affecting the implementation of an RTA, or
the operation of an already implemented RTA, should be notified to the
WTO as soon as possible after changes occur. The parties should provide
a summary of the changes made, as well as any related texts, schedules,
annexes and protocols, in one of the WTO official languages and, if
available, in electronic format.
At the end of the RTA's implementation period, the parties shall submit
to the WTO a short written report on the realization of liberalization
commitments in the RTA as originally notified.
Article 22(b) of the
Transparency Mechanism calls for a factual abstract to be prepared by
the Secretariat to present the features of RTAs for which the CRTA has
concluded the “factual examination” by 31 December 2006.