International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

July 2011


World Trade

WTO delegates visit IEC Central Office

Delegates from 25 different countries representing 26 separate organizations came to visit the IEC Central Office in Geneva on the morning of 8 June 2011 in what is now part of an on-going training programme within the WTO.

Delegates from all over the world

Delegates came from South America, the Far East, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe. They were attending a week-long advanced course on TBT (technical barriers to trade) that was held at the WTO (World Trade Organization) in Geneva from 6 - 17 June 2011.


The IEC has now become an integral part of the specific TBT programme that the WTO organizes periodically for its delegates. Attendees at this session had a most diverse background. From national standards bodies, regulatory authorities, ministries of trade and industry, ministries of science and technology, metrology and industrial quality institutions, to international trade departments, all were in Geneva with the common aim of learning how to apply the WTO TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement in their relevant area of expertise.

IEC visit is part of the programme

Part of the week's agenda included a technical visit to international standards-setting bodies, hence the visit to the IEC Central Office. Knowing that delegates had been told earlier on by the sister organization, ISO (International Organization for Standardization), about the benefits of participating in international standardization, the IEC session focused on the comparative differences that exist in terms of membership (through National Committees), the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems and the free IEC programme that exists for developing countries.


During the question and answer session that followed, participants asked for additional information on subjects such as how IEC NCs (National Committees) are constituted and the various types of IEC membership:

  • What constitutes an IEC NC and makes it different to an NSB (national standards body) or a NEC (national electrotechnical committee) set up specifically by an Affiliate country to represent national electrotechnical interests?
  • What is the difference in rights between those IEC NCs with Associate Membership and Full Membership? How does one pass from one status to the other?
  • What happens if an IECEE certificate is not accepted by a regulator or by another CB (certification body)?
  • What commercial advantage is there in having an Ex (potentially explosive) site covered by the IECEx System?

Meeting delegates from other countries

The visit gave Affiliate Country Programme Secretary Françoise Rauser the opportunity to invite Azerbaijan to join the IEC's Affiliate Country Programme and to discuss with representatives from Guatemala, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago about their country’s participation in the programme.


All those present were also aiming to attend the next WTO /TBT Committee meeting on 15-16 June as observers where consequently they would hear the IEC presentation of its trimestral report on activities in developing and industrializing countries.


  • From left to right: Erik Wijkstrom, Secretary of the WTO TBT Committee, Françoise Rauser, Affiliate Country Programme Secretary and Katharine Fraga Pearson, IEC Executive Assistant, Office of the General Secretary
  • Attendees at the WTO visit to IECAttendees at the WTO visit to IEC.
  • Attendees at the WTO visit to IECAttendees at the WTO visit to IEC.



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