WTO Rules on Technical Barriers to Trade
P. van den Bossche
University of Maastricht - Faculty of Law
Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2005-6
In modern society, products are often subject to requirements relating to their characteristics and/or the manner in which they are produced. The purpose of these requirements may be the protection of life or health, the protection of the environment, the prevention of deceptive practices or to ensure the quality of products. These requirements may constitute formidable barriers to trade. Moreover, procedures set up to verify whether a product meets certain requirements may obstruct trade. These barriers to trade are referred to as technical barriers to trade. One must distinguish between:
the general category of technical barriers to trade, for which rules have been set out in the TBT Agreement; and
a special category of technical barriers to trade, namely sanitary and phytosanitary measures, for which rules are provided in the SPS Agreement.
The rules of the TBT Agreement and the SPS Agreement are of great importance to international trade. They go significantly beyond the GATT obligations not to discriminate among or against imported products or not to impose quantitative restrictions but also impose certain international disciplines on national regulation regarding products, their characteristics and production. This working paper gives an overview of the scope of application as well as the substantive and institutional/procedural provisions of the TBT Agreement and the SPS Agreement.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: WTO law, Market Access, Technical Barriers to Trade, TBT Agreement, SPS Agreement.
JEL Classification: K10
Date posted: April 5, 2007