The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards and similar measures are do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade and are not discriminatory.
The Agreement states that Members shall give priority to the needs of the least-developed country Members in providing advice and technical assistance (under Article 11 on “Technical Assistance to Other Members”) and shall take account of the “stage of development of the requesting members and in particular of the least-developed country Members” in “determining the terms and conditions of the technical assistance” (under Article 12, on “Special and Differential Treatment of Developing Country Members”.
(i) urges members to provide, to the extent possible, the financial and technical assistance necessary to enable least-developed countries to respond adequately to the introduction of any new TBT measures which may have significant negative effects on their trade; and
(ii) urges members to ensure that technical assistance is provided to least-developed countries with a view to responding to the special problems faced by them in implementing the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
Identification of technical assistance needs:
In 2002, the WTO secretariat circulated a survey in which Members could indicate their technical needs in the TBT Area. Fifty Members replied, of which 8 are LDCs. And as of April 2018, 7 LDCs are still in the member list:
Utilization by LDCs:
The main reason provided by LDCs for not fully benefiting from technical assistance is that the private sector does not bring the cases in which their exports are having problems of compliance to the notice of the government. Consequently, it is difficult to formulate requests for technical assistance (Nepal, Tanzania).
One LDC suggested that the capacity of the National SPS / TBT committee in monitoring products rejected in export markets should be improved, which would enable the government and private sector to identify specific needs for technical and capacity building (Uganda).
LCDs have benefited from technical and financial assistance from the following sources:
- EU, Japan, US, China, India, Germany, Sweden
- Multilateral organizations/programmes mentioned by respondents:
o International Trade Centre (ITC),
o African Development Bank (AfDB),
o The Common Market for Eastern & South Africa (COMESA),
- Around half of respondents reported not having received any technical assistance in the TBT area (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mozambique; Senegal, Solomon Islands and Zambia).
Available Smooth Transition Procedures:
- WTO: Technical Barrier to Trade
- WTO: Implementation-Related Issues & Concerns (WT/MIN(01)/17, paragraph 5.1)
- DOHA WTO MINISTERIAL 2001: MINISTERIAL DECLARATION (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1, 20 November 2001)
- WTO ANALYTICAL INDEX: TECHNICAL BARRIERS—Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade
- WTO: Information on Members’ Technical Assistance activities and needs