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Telecom (SIT)

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 harmonizing the standards in this sector.

In April 2002, an informal meeting was held in Geneva to discuss the need for improved market access on the telecom market. It was attended by representatives of the European Commission (EC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), telecom companies from the UNECE region and business associations from Australia and Japan, and by members of the Ad Hoc Team of Specialists on Standardization and Regulatory Techniques (START Team). Participants suggested initiating a dialogue following the model of Recommendation L to explore the possibilities of regulatory convergence.

Common Regulatory Objectives (CROs) in this sector, covering for instance 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), were drawn up in 2004. However, they have not yet been applied in national legislations or in the context of mutual recognition arrangements. They remain relevant nevertheless in other key negotiating arenas: the WTO non-agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations, and the consultations at ITU on “conformance assessment and interoperability”.

In the context of the NAMA talks, several proposals have addressed the possibility of simplifying conformity assessment procedures as they apply to trade in electronic products. The proposed CROs could be applied to the results of this chapter of the NAMA negotiations in a way that would further the latter’s objectives while assuring compliance with the overall WTO legal framework. In the context of the ITU consultations, on the other hand, the proposed CROs could represent a complement and a tool for implementing the relevant standards once agreed.

Important documents:

Meetings: