Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Tracey Epps and Michael J. Trebilcock
Chapter 10: The TBT Agreement and developing countries
States set many standards for products that are imported into their territory, and these standards can have a dramatic impact on export levels for developing countries. This chapter explores the degree to which the TBT Agreement protects developing countries against discriminatory protectionist standards set by importing countries. It also discusses the extent to which the Agreement creates a level playing field for the setting of product standards in which developing countries’ interests are respected. For the most part, the WTO and both national and international organizations that set standards have a long way to go to effectively integrate developing countries into a fair and equitable international trading system. To understand the magnitude of the challenge international standards represent for developing countries, the impact on China – a sophisticated trading nation – is instructive. Statistics kept by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce indicate that the cost of cancelled orders and rectification of non-compliance with TBT measures reduced Chinese exports by 28.8 billion USD in 2005 and 35.92 billion USD in 2006. A study surveying SPS and TBT measures affecting trade in agriculture concluded in 2007 that these measures have significantly reduced trade from developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) destined for OECD states. This chapter is organized as follows. Part II begins with a brief overview of the economic and institutional reasons that technical measures can impose higher costs on producers in developing countries than those in developed ones.
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