How E-labels Can Support Trade and Innovation in ICT, Medical, and Other Products

October 27, 2021


  • As products get smaller, it is becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to find physical space for physical labels to address intelligible information to multiple markets.
  • People around the world have gained familiarity with machine-readable codes, especially QR codes, during COVID-19. The rise in consumer, business, and government awareness could be a powerful catalyst for e-labeling in more countries and sectors.
  • Twenty-one countries—from China to Samoa—allow firms to use e-labels to show telecommunication compliance marks. Several countries allow them to show medical device instructions. New cybersecurity labeling requirements may also allow them.
  • As more countries consider allowing e-labels for regulatory purposes, there is the risk that complicated and conflicting approaches could create a new barrier to global trade and innovation in ICT and other products.
  • Policymakers should coordinate in developing standards and practices for e-labeling. It would be counterproductive to inhibit technological innovation by making firms alter product designs to create space for both physical and e-labels.