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Technical Barriers to Trade
A technical regulations lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production methods with which compliance is mandatory. Examples of technical regulations are requirements regarding terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling as they apply to a product, process or production method. A standard deals with similar requirements the main difference from a technical regulation being that compliance is voluntary. In the Agreement, a standard is defined as a document, approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for products or related processes and production methods. A conformity assessment procedure is any procedure used to determine that relevant requirements in technical regulations or standards are fulfilled.
The TBT Agreement seeks to strike a balance between the avoidance of unnecessary obstacles to international trade and allowing for Members' regulatory autonomy to protect legitimate interests. It promotes the use of international standards as one means to achieve this aim.
Reference to WTO mandate
Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, Article 11
Examples of typical activities
Support to governmental authorities, national standardizing bodies and authorities to (I) enhance both safety and quality aspects of exported products; (II) improve participation in international standard-setting; (III) provide training and infrastructure required to comply with standards and to certify compliance; (IV) training on transparency-related obligations and assistance in the establishment/operation of TBT enquiry points/notification authorities; (V) assist with development of required legislation; (VI) support the development of monitoring and surveillance systems; (VII) assist in putting in place mechanisms to ensure good regulatory practice and coordination between regulatory authorities and national standardizing bodies; (VIII) provide training and establish infrastructure for conformity assessment; (IX) raise awareness of the benefit of the TBT Agreement and of the use of international standards.


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