The World Trade Organization (WTO) has launched a new import licensing database—a one-stop shop for members and interested parties seeking to access information on import licensing procedures.
Launched by the WTO Secretariat on October 9, 2020, the new platform gathers together import licensing information, analysis and reporting, and streamlines notification procedures for WTO members.
WTO deputy director-general Yi Xiaozhun DDG Yi said the import licensing database will significantly improve transparency in trade and will benefit all members, “especially those developing members who have capacity and resource constraints, as well as SMEs and MSMEs.”
The new database is a comprehensive information center containing all members’ legislation, procedures and product information relating to import licensing. Its user-friendly interface will allow members and the business community to find import licensing information more efficiently and to make better use of the information contained in members’ notifications, said WTO.
The new platform is expected to promote compliance with WTO members’ transparency obligations. This will be especially helpful for importers and exporters as well as developing countries which have capacity constraints.
The WTO’s Information Technology Solutions Division provided technical support to the Market Access Division, which worked on the platform for four years. The division designed the structure of the platform, reviewed and analyzed all import licensing notifications submitted by members since 1995, and uploaded profiles of 134 members.
The division also verified over 2,500 pieces of legislation to make sure all links lead to the relevant information and to ensure accuracy regarding more than 1,000 products and procedures.
Import licenses are permits granted before a product is imported. WTO said administrative procedures for obtaining the licenses should be simple, neutral, equitable and transparent. Where possible they should be given automatically and quickly, and even if they are non-automatic, they should not obstruct trade unnecessarily.
The platform can be accessed here.