Article 1.1: Publication

Members have to promptly publish a set of trade-related information
in a non-discriminatory and easily accessible manner

What is covered?

Scope and objective

Article 1.1 of the TFA requires Members to publish a specified list of information indicated therein. The obligation is not circumscribed to the publication of legal instruments (i.e. laws and regulations) but requires the publication of specific data, such as applied rates of duties and taxes or fees and charges whether contained in rules and regulations, according to the legal system of each WTO Member.

This provision concerns all competent agencies at the national and local level with functional authority over the listed items in Article 1.1.1. Those authorities shall ensure that relevant stakeholders within and beyond the territory may easily access the listed information.

Article X of the GATT compelled Members to publish promptly trade-related laws, regulations, judicial decisions and administrative rulings of general application to enable governments and traders to be acquainted with them. However, it did not mandate Members to publish specific information related to the requirements and procedures for clearing goods for import or export, or the means and channels of publication. With the entry into force of the TFA, new specific transparency requirements aim at enabling businesses to obtain up-to-date information about all import and export procedures and requirements of the GATT. It is worth noting, however, that obligations arising from Article X of the GATT 1994 are still valid and hold with equal and full force of law.

Core obligation

This Measure formulates a mandatory obligation for WTO Members to publish promptly the trade-related information listed in Article 1.1 in a “non-discriminatory and easily accessible manner” in order to let the interested parties become acquainted with them. The aim is to enable traders, governments and other stakeholders to know the rules and conditions applicable to export, import or transit of goods.

The nature of the Measure is mandatory and each WTO Member is required to implement this provision. The use of the expressions “promptly” and “in a non-discriminatory and easily accessible manner” mandates Members to ensure that the publication of the listed items is carried out as readily as possible, which does not leave out any interested party.

By the same token, the full compliance of this obligation implicitly entails the obligation to keep the information up to date. Thus, WTO Members shall swiftly make publicly available any amendment to the items listed in Article 1.1.1 in non-discriminatory and easily accessible manner.

Generally, the term “publication” means the act of making information or writing available, especially in a printed form, but also includes electronic publication. Hence, in the context of this Article, information published on Internet in electronic form would comply with the obligations under this Article as long it is updated, complete and easily accessible.

Means of publication

Although the provision does not specify the means to be deployed for the implementation of the measure, publication through the Internet is strongly recommended. In paragraph 2.3 of Article 1 of the TFA, WTO Members are encouraged to make available through the Internet relevant trade-related legislation and other items referred to in paragraph 1.1.

Language of publication

Paragraph 1.2 of Article 1.1 clarifies that this Measure does not require Members to publish or provide the listed trade-related information in a language other than the language of the Member, except as stated in paragraph 2.2. In fact, the later – which disciplines availability of information on Internet – requires Members, whenever practicable, to upload the information listed in paragraph 2.1 also in one of the official languages of the WTO.

What is not covered?

This Measure is silent on the modalities and frequency of publication, not specifying whether publication must occur in the official gazette, in dedicated books or through other resources. Moreover, the Measure does not specify whether the task to publish the information is entrusted to government agencies or whether it can be outsourced to private companies.

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