Research Handbook on the WTO and Technical Barriers to Trade
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Research Handbook on the WTO and Technical Barriers to Trade

Edited by Tracey Epps and Michael J. Trebilcock

A relatively new frontier for legal and policy analysis, technical barriers to trade (TBT’s) have become more common as traditional border barriers have been reduced. This comprehensive Handbook comprises original essays by eminent trade scholars exploring the implications of the WTO’s TBT Agreement.
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Chapter 6: Moving out of the shadows: Bringing transparency to standards and regulations in the WTO & #x2019;s TBT Committee

Petros C. Mavroidis and Erik N. Wijkström


The argument that we advance in this chapter is that the TBT Committee has, without much ado, and somewhat behind the scenes – managed to administer in an efficient way its core task: the review of measures falling within the scope of the Agreement, which is a broad one (the TBT Agreement covers trade in all goods, agricultural as well as industrial). Indeed, we see that the TBT Committee is increasingly used to address conflicts between Members for a large subset of non-tariff measures (NTMs) of a regulatory and standards-related nature. One significant reason for this is that the transparency mechanisms function well, and, as a forum, the Committee is an important ‘clearing house’ for the discussion of trade concerns. To show this we first set out the basics – looking, briefly, at the purpose, mandate and scope of the TBT Agreement (Section II). Then we discuss the actual review of the trade measures undertaken by the Committee (Section III). In Section IV we consider the more cross-cutting or ‘thematic’ issues that arise in the Committee's work where consultations take place on how to better implement current disciplines. Finally, in Sections V and VI, we provide some analysis of the record and a few concluding remarks. One important caveat should be made up front. This chapter is intended to explore key aspects of the TBT Agreement as well as the work of the Committee.

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