You are here

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Testing and Inspection - an Essential Building Block for Effective Trade Facilitation

The focus of the debates around non-tariff barriers to trade so far has been on WTO/TBT and SPS Agreements. Nevertheless, developing countries often do not have a functional quality infrastructure in place that can help products be tested and certified through conformity assessment procedures compliant with the requirements from developed markets/consumers/etc. The effects of such inefficient testing/inspection systems for trade facilitation imply:

  • Border Rejections
  • Economic distance to markets is higher due to delays related to conformity assessment procedures
  • Higher testing costs for the private sector
  • Lack of risk management approach associated to border operations.

This, on a larger scale, leads to loss of economic opportunity, higher transaction costs and time to access the export markets. The adoption of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
(TFA) by the General Council of WTO highlights the importance to tackle these multi-faceted issues at a global level.

What we do

Trade Capacity Building activities in UNIDO aim to:

Strengthen the capacity of countries to perform testing and inspection activities within an internationally recognized framework, so that they can respond effectively to demanding international market requirements.

Why is testing/inspection important in the flow of goods?

Having a product tested/inspected through an internationally recognized accredited laboratory adds value because it:

  • Increases the speed at which goods pass through the border
  • Ensures conformity assessment certificates are accepted at both sides of the border
  • Reduces rejections of goods at the border
  • Minimizes opportunity cost
  • Decreases trade costs for private sector, making them more sustainable.

Moreover, due to the importance of testing and inspection, it is a fundamental requirement foreseen by the TFA (Articles 5.3 and 12).

How we do

UNIDO’s approach to Trade Facilitation consists of two folds:

1. Analytical work

a.  Border Rejection Analysis

(EU DG Sanco, US FDA, Australia AQIS, Japan MHLW)

b.  Quality Infrastructure Performance

2.  UNIDO’s Systemic Approach – Tool box.

a.  Support institutions/ National standards bodies (NSB) to align to international standards, in particular in the areas of TBT and SPS and effectively provide inspection services to reduce the time to reach the market (Article 12 – Border inspection).

b.  Increase transparency by supporting testing/inspection service providers to obtain internationally recognized accreditation in order to offer their services to the private sector at a competitive price, allowing them to reduce costs (Article 5.3 – testing procedures).

c.  Strengthening WTO TBT/SPS/TF Enquiry Points to contribute to the simplification of trade flows (Articles 7.9 - perishable goods and Article 1 -publication).

d.  Harmonisation of compliance requirements and mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures through the consultation on both sides of the border, at national and regional levels. (Consultation on technical regulations involving good governance and risk management) (Article 8 – integrated border management and Article 12 - customs cooperation).


Having an effective inspection/testing system in place can make the difference by:

  • Meeting international market requirements
  • Reducing economic distance to the market
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving competitiveness
  • Ensuring consumer safety
  • Enabling access to international markets.

Testing and Inspection – the missing link for successful implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Enquiries regarding trade facilitation can be directed to:

Dr. Otto Loesener

Industrial Development Officer

Standards and Trade Facilitation Division
Wagramer Strasse 5,
1220 Vienna

Telephone: +43 1 260 263424