11 September 2023

The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) is a key component of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

The TBT Agreement covers a wide range of products, including industrial goods, agricultural products, and services. It applies to all technical regulations and standards, whether they are mandatory or voluntary. The agreement also covers conformity assessment procedures, which are used to ensure that products meet the relevant technical regulations and standards.

One of the key principles of the TBT Agreement is that technical regulations and standards should be based on scientific principles and should not be used as a form of protectionism. WTO members are encouraged to use international standards as a basis for their technical regulations and to ensure that their regulations do not create unnecessary barriers to trade.

The TBT Agreement also requires WTO members to notify other members of any proposed technical regulations or standards that may affect international trade. This notification allows other members to comment on the proposed regulation and to raise any concerns they may have. This process helps to ensure that technical regulations and standards are transparent and that they do not discriminate against foreign products.

In addition to these general principles, the TBT Agreement includes specific provisions on a variety of technical issues. These include labeling and packaging requirements, product safety and testing, and environmental regulations. The agreement also includes rules on the use of trademarks and geographical indications, which are often used to protect traditional products from specific regions.

Overall, the TBT Agreement is an important tool for promoting international trade and ensuring that technical regulations and standards do not create unnecessary barriers. By ensuring that regulations are based on sound scientific principles, are transparent, and do not discriminate against foreign products, the TBT Agreement helps to create a level playing field for businesses operating in the global marketplace. As a result, businesses can operate more efficiently and effectively, and consumers can benefit from a wider range of high-quality products at competitive prices.