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 16: Conclusion

Tracey Epps


The chapters in this volume have canvassed various aspects of the scope, application, and interpretation of the WTO’s TBT Agreement. A number of themes emerge from the discussion and analysis. First, while technical measures can be valuable regulatory tools for governments, in some cases they can also constitute undesirable barriers to international trade. Hence the rationale for international rules to discipline the adoption and application of such measures. Second, the TBT Agreement has a broad scope, both in terms of the types of technical measures encompassed by its disciplines, and also in terms of its application in the context of a number of new and emerging trends (such as the increased demand for consumer information about a range of products and their production processes) and technologies (such as information and communication technologies). The third theme is one that is familiar across many aspects of WTO law, namely, the intent of the TBT Agreement’s negotiators to strike a balance between trade liberalisation objectives and the protection of Members’ domestic regulatory autonomy. Fourth, in order to meet its trade liberalisation objective, and in addition to disciplines such as non-discrimination and ensuring that measures are not more trade-restrictive than necessary, the TBT Agreement encourages and facilitates reduction of trade barriers through various means (use of international standards, harmonisation, equivalence and mutual recognition among countries).

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