Background information and current status:
Compatibility of products of the telecom industry often causes problems to end-users, who can find themselves unable to use imported material or equipment they have bought in another country. Most incompatibility issues could be solved through harmonization of standards in this sector.
In 2001, the OECD prepared an interim report on telecommunications terminal equipment, which mentioned three sub sectors, where international harmonization was feasible (electrical safety, electro magnetic compatibility-EMC and radio interference). In April 2002, an informal meeting to discuss the need for improved market access on the telecom market was organized in Geneva. It was by delegates from European Commission (EC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), by telecom companies from UNECE region and business associations from Australia and Japan, and members of the START Team. At the meeting participants proposed to initiate a dialogue following the model of Recommendation L to explore the possibilities of regulatory convergence.
At the 2002 annual session, the Working Party (see para. 81 of the report of the 2002 session) decided to support the Sectoral Initiative on Telecom (SIT) initiated by the START Team and took note of the draft common regulatory objectives (CROs) that had been prepared. Further version of the CROs cover the following equipment: personal computers (PCs); PC peripherals, legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) terminals; Bluetooth, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN); Global Standard for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM); and International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT-2000).
Those CROs, which have not been implemented so far, could benefit from the increasing interest among WTO Members for discussions on NTBs, and serve as a basis to support and NTB Agreement.