Developing Disharmony? The Sps and Tbt Agreements and the Impact of Harmonization on Developing Countries

28 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2005

See all articles by Graham Mayeda

Graham Mayeda

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section


The purpose of this article is to evaluate the benefits of legal harmonization within the framework of international trade law, with a particular focus on development and the effects on developing countries. It will begin with theoretical and normative claims for and against harmonization, and then turn to the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade in order to explore these claims within a specific context. Overall, we will see that harmonization is largely an ineffective tool for dealing with development issues. While it is important to develop institutional capacity in developing countries to deal with health, safety and technical standards, across-the-board harmonization fails to recognize the need for countries to adapt laws and legal institutions to domestic conditions. My exposition of the impact that the international trade regime can have on developing countries through a relatively circumscribed policy area, SPS and TBT measures, points to the need for anticipating similar impacts in other areas in which the international trade regime promotes legal harmonization.

Keywords: International Trade, WTO, SPS Agreement, TBT Agreement, Developing Countries, Harmonization

JEL Classification: F15, F40, K33, O10, O19

Suggested Citation

Mayeda, Graham, Developing Disharmony? The Sps and Tbt Agreements and the Impact of Harmonization on Developing Countries. Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 737-764, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Graham Mayeda (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 (2915) (Phone)

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