TBT Agreement: Provisions for LDCs in the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade

The TBT Agreement exists to ensure that technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. The agreement prohibits technical requirements created in order to limit trade, as opposed to technical requirements created for legitimate purposes such as consumer or environmental protection.

The TBT agreement is closely linked to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

The following list is an overview of the guidelines and mechanisms that promote the TBT’s objectives:

  • The WTO’s most-favoured-nation rule binds countries’ technical requirements.
  • The TBT agreement strongly encourages countries to recognize the results of other countries’ conformity assessment tests – the tests that determine whether a product conforms to a given standard.
  • The TBT promotes the development of international standards and provides governments and inter-governmental bodies with guidance on how to best develop such standards. TBT members are strongly encouraged to adopt international standards as their technical requirements whenever possible.
  • All TBT members are required to establish “enquiry points” – offices that provide information about the country’s technical regulations, test procedures, and adherence to various international standards.
  • A technical assistance program helps developing countries meet international standards and helps them get involved in the establishment of such standards.

The following provisions and measures within the TBT Agreement are LDC-specific:

  1. Time-limited exceptions from obligations in the preparation or application of TBT Measures (Article 12.8).
  2. Technical assistance in the preparations or applications of Regulatory TBT Measures (Articles 11 & 12.7 and Doha Decision)
  3. Technical assistance in the establishment or application of national standardizing bodies specific to TBT Measures (Article 11.2 and Doha Decision)

Utilization by LDCs:

Available Smooth Transition Procedures:

Resources:

  1. The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement)
  2. Implementation of Special and Differential Treatment Provisions in WTO Agreements and Decisions- Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Special and differential Treatment Provisions
  3. WTO Analytical Index: Technical Barriers—Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade
  4. 2001 Doha Ministerial Decision on Implementation-related Issues and Concerns
  5. Implementation of Special and Differential Treatment Provisions in WTO Agreements and Decisions- Note by Secretariat