The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) require signatories to establish entities to gather and efficiently distribute trade-related regulatory and standards information among their members.
In particular, the following two agreements within the WTO and two Chapters within NAFTA require the existence of National Notification Authorities and National Enquiry Points:
- The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), commits signatories to work towards compatibility of standardization measures;
- The WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), concerns measures to protect human, animal or plant life and health;
- Chapter 9 of NAFTA reaffirms that North American countries will uphold the rights and obligations of the WTO/TBT agreement; and
- Chapter 7 of NAFTA deals with agriculture and SPS measures.
The Notification Authorities and Enquiry Points required by Canada under the WTO and NAFTA have been consolidated under the management of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) on behalf of International Trade Canada.
Canada's partners in NAFTA - the United States (the US operates separate Notification Authorities/Enquiry Points for SPS and TBT) and Mexico have similar entities to respond to their requirements.
Services and products
In fulfilling Canada's obligations under WTO and NAFTA, the Canadian Enquiry Point offers the following services and products to interested stakeholders:
- Provision of notification and related documentation to Canada's WTO and NAFTA partners of any proposed new or amended technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures, and SPS measures that could have an impact on trade;
- Distribution of WTO notifications to Canadian stakeholders, via Export Alert!;
- Forwarding of comments received on domestic and foreign measures to the appropriate regulatory agency for consideration;
- Access to strategic information essential to the design, manufacture, marketing, export and import of products and services;
- Responses to technical enquiries on a variety of topics, including: national, foreign and international standards; and Canadian and foreign technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures and SPS measures;
- Access to standards and regulatory information at the SCC's on-site technical library and to the Regulatory Notices Database search feature on this site, which houses WTO/TBT & SPS notifications.