Inmetro, the Brazilian TBT/WTO Enquiry Point

Ìnmetro is the Brazilian Focal Point for Technical Barriers to Trade. As such, it is responsible for the following:

  • The Brazilian Enquiry Point for the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade;
  • Providing Brazilian exporters, particulary from SMEs, with information on technical requirements;
  • Supporting the Brazilian government in international negotiations involving technical barriers to trade.

Since its creation, the WTO became the most important trade forum, and Brazil is a country member since than. Inmetro was designated by the Brazilian Government for fulfilling the Enquiry Point activities for the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, such as:

- To inform the TBT/WTO Secretariat about the Technical Regulations applied in the country;
- To inform the TBT/WTO Secretariat about the conformity assessment procedures applied in the country;
- To carry out the duty as a Enquiry Point, through an exchange of information, whenever required by other WTO members, on the Technical Regulations, Standards and conformity assessment procedures.

As Focal Point, Inmetro develops activities to help Brazilian exporters in their struggle to overcome technical barriers. To operate, efficiently, the Focal Point technical staff gathers a permanent assessment of information, reflecting upon the influence played on foreign trade by technical barriers.
The work of the Focal Point of Technical Barriers to Trade is split into five large areas:

- to accomplish the obligations as Focal Point for TBT Agreement;
- to support the nation-wide co-ordination of Mercosul Subgroup 3, which is responsible for the harmonisation demands of technical regulations to support trade within the four member countries;
- to participate in negotiations related to technical barriers to trade;
- to support the activities on technical co-operation, aiming at reducing the technological gaps among the nations; and
- to carry out available services to the Brazilian exporters, seeking to overcome eventual technical obstacles which interfere with our foreign trade.

The broad experience achieved by the Focal Point should be transformed into something that benefits the local exporter, thus increasing Brazil´s participation in the overseas market. The Focal Point has turned into an information centre on Technical Barriers to Trade. A system has been created to offer services to Brazilian exporters, organised in the following way:

- To exchange information with Brazilian exporters through the denouncement of eventual technical barriers received by the "Denounce Technical Barriers" program;
- To make available on the Inmetro Home Page in the Internet the WTO member countries information on technical regulations and conformity assessment proposals, with inclusion of the full text of the document;
- To inform the exporters registered, via the "Exporter Alert", about the publication of documents from WTO member countries;
- To analyse the comments made by the production sector on the proposals published;
- Accumulation, classification and organisation of the information received
- Publication of manuals and booklets on Technical Barriers to Trade;
- Presence in several events aiming the dissemination of Focal Point services;
- Lectures and drills to both the private sector and the government, on Technical Barriers to Trade;
- To make available articles and texts on Technical Barriers in the Internet.

In view of the string of information resulting from the activities of the Focal Point on Technical Barriers to Trade, Inmetro co-ordinates in Brazil Mercosul Subgroup 3, seeking to adjust the technical resolutions and the conformity assessment procedures within the range of Mercosul four member countries.

Also due to the experience accumulated in the WTO and the Mercosul, the Focal Point technicians have been supporting negotiators from the Foreign Ministry, in shaping the agreements involving the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA-ALCA), more precisely on the chapter about Rules and Technical Barriers, as well as in the document Trade Facilities in Bi-regional Negotiation Committee (Mercosul vs European Union) on the subject concerning Technical Barriers within the Aladi, and on the 4+1 mechanism of the Rose Garden Agreement, between the United States and Mercosul.

Technical barriers are overcome in two ways: first, through negotiation, whenever it is undue, or second, when actually they are not strictu sensu technical barriers, but rather a technological gap, through the technical co-operation in basic industrial technology. In the past few years, Inmetro has signed technical co-operation agreements in many areas, which are bound to promote Brazilian foreign trade. It is important to emphasise the agreements signed between the European Union and Mercosul; co-operation with the NIST (U.S.A.) in metrology; with BAM (Germany) in reference materials; with PTB (Germany), in Chemical metrology, and with the strategic association of the Mercosul industrial technology institutes.

Through its alliance with the most modern means concerning Information Technology to the knowledge acquired by Inmetro’s experts on Technical Barriers, the Focal Point may contribute even more for a consistent growth of our exports, and to a great insertion of Brazilian products in the world economic scenario.

Through the "Exporter Alert!" service, available free of charge in the site of the Focal Point of Technical Barriers to Trade, Brazilian exporters may be informed of the daily notifications addressed to the WTO which are related to the effective date of the new technical regulations in countries of their interest which affect their products.