ProposalS on TRANSPARENCY, AND THE SHARING OF WRITTEN QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES FROM MEMBERS ON SPECIFIC TRADE CONCERNS
NINth TRIENNIAL REVIEW
Submission from Singapore
The following submission, dated 28 May 2021, is being circulated at the request of the delegation of Singapore.
1 PROPOSAL ON TRANSPARENCY: provision of translations FOR all NOTIFIED DOCUMENTS in THE WTO'S THREE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
1.1. Singapore recognises the importance for Members to notify new and revised technical regulations, standards and their related conformity assessment procedures in a timely and comprehensive manner, to allow other Members and relevant stakeholders to acquaint themselves with and adapt to new measures. A key aspect is ensuring access to the notified documents in the three WTO languages. The Committee should continue its work on facilitating the sharing of translations, including unofficial translations.
1.2. In light of technological advancements on translation software, which could translate a large amount of text in a short period, the Committee and the Secretariat could explore incorporating the use of such software in Members' submission of notifications. This could offer benefits, such as:
a. Addressing Members' concerns on the lack of translation capacity, especially for developing and least developed Members, to make timely notifications of their proposed TBT measures or review the large number of notifications by other Members.
b. By providing fast translations of the notified documents, the comment period of the notified measures is better optimised to allow stakeholders to promptly understand the proposed new requirements and engage with the notifying Member.
1.3. Possible outcome: Building on Members' obligations under the TBT Agreement and the Committee's recommendations and work, Singapore proposes for the Committee and the Secretariat to explore the use of available IT tools such as translation software. Such translation software could be employed on the WTO's TBT Notification Submission System (NSS) to provide unofficial translations of all notified documents into the three official WTO languages, if official translations are not already provided. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, the proposal enables WTO Members to have a common unofficial translation. When compared with each Member having their own translations, the proposal could benefit notifying Members in potentially reducing the enquiries for clarifications on their notified measure due to translation accuracy. Notifying Members may also choose to verify the automatically translated texts and make any revisions as necessary.