Over and over again, if you talk to business people who trade, you find that these barriers rank much higher on the scale of their concerns than tariffs or quotas, for example. The WTO has tens of thousands of documents from its Member governments reporting the use of these barriers and explaining when and how they apply. But the ‘notifications’ to the Committees on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Committee on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures that contain all this information are difficult to find on the WTO website and almost impossible to search through. What importers and exporters need is a database of these measures that can be consulted easily and quickly. That’s what Inquit has now created: a database of the barriers notified to WTO since January 2000. There are, in fact, expensive subscription databases of national standards. But WTO alone holds a record of all the ‘legal’ measures that Member governments are required to notify under threat of sanction by other governments. What I’ve done is to turn these records from ‘MS Word’ files into a searchable database . As far as I know, this database is unique. There are others out there, but they offer only a narrow selection from the WTO data or only the data from the last year or so. Inquit’s database offers complete information from the WTO notifications for the past 5 years. You can find an introduction to the database and free access to the reports here I hope you find the database useful. Please tell me what you think. What could I do to improve it? What else would you like me to add to the reports?
Peter Gallagher is student of piano and photography. He was formerly a senior trade official of the Australian government. For some years after leaving government, he consulted to international organizations, governments and business groups on trade and public policy.
He teaches graduate classes at the University of Adelaide on trade research methods and the role of firms in trade and growth and tweets trade (and other) stuff from @pwgallagher