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Standards cooperation, quality infrastructure key to boosting value chains, says DDG Paugam

GENEVA, Switzerland, (WTO News) – “Quality infrastructure supports the resilience of world trade by building and maintaining trust across value chains,” DDG Paugam said at the opening of the 5th China Quality Conference, which centered on the theme of cooperation in economic recovery.

  • His opening speech is available here.

“Investing in efficient supply chains is one of the important tools to support resilience,” he added. Quality infrastructure is central because it fosters trust among trading partners and facilitates private-sector collaboration.

Quality infrastructure refers to the system of organizations (public and private), policies, relevant legal and regulatory framework, and practices needed to support and enhance the quality, safety and environmental soundness of goods, services and processes. This infrastructure is needed for the effective operation of domestic markets, and its international recognition is important to enable access to foreign markets.

International standards allow supply chains to “talk” to each other – they operate across borders, much like a shared language. Beyond ensuring compatibility between components and final products, standards capture best practices for safety, quality, and efficiency. When one country’s intermediary goods meet international standards, manufacturers elsewhere can seamlessly integrate them into the final products, boosting trust and cutting costs.

Drawing attention to the Outcome Document from a recent meeting of G20 trade and investment ministers, DDG Paugam echoed the importance of connectivity and optimizing supply chain operations through various means, from logistics and communication infrastructure to customs and information technology.

All of this, he stressed, is not abstract. It touches people’s lives.

In health, for instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, differences in standards limited access to masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) and delayed vaccine approval.

On climate, DDG Paugam noted that WTO discussions on decarbonization involved stakeholders from sectors like iron and steel. These underlined the necessity for transparent and consistent standards, easing the transition to low-carbon solutions. In the realm of the digital economy, officials at the WTO have recently delved into diverse topics, including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Much of this cooperation, DDG Paugam told participants, is taking place in the regular work of the WTO. The solution to these challenges, he stressed, is more cooperation, not less. Indeed, the recent G20 Outcome Document acknowledged the importance of effective regulatory dialogue to reduce regulatory divergences and specifically expressed a commitment to intensify cooperation in the WTO Committees on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade.

  • His full remarks are available here.


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