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WTO Working Papers

WTO working papers usually represent research in progress. Such research may be conducted in the preparation of WTO Secretariat reports, studies or other material for WTO members. The papers are circulated for comment because the WTO considers critical review of professional research to be extremely important.

English

TBT Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements

To What Extent Do They Go Beyond the WTO TBT Agreement?

This paper investigates whether TBT provisions included in RTAs differ from those under the WTO TBT Agreement, and, if they do, whether they entail broader commitments. Our analysis covers 238 RTAs, of which 171 include at least one provision, and focuses on the provisions on technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures, transparency, dispute settlement, marking and labelling and sector-specific commitments. We find that all RTAs signed since 2010 systematically include TBT provisions and that the most frequent provisions are those referring to the TBT Agreement and transparency. Moreover, even if there are RTAs that include new or broader commitments than the TBT Agreement, our study shows that their number remains very limited. For instance, relatively few RTAs have included provisions to better implement WTO provisions in the area of transparency or provisions requiring the equivalence or harmonization of technical regulations among the parties or even the recognition of conformity assessment results. RTAs with a dispute settlement provision that applies exclusively to TBT issues are also very few. These RTAs give in general exclusive jurisdiction to the WTO DSM over TBT related disputes. Finally, also only a minority of RTAs include provisions on new issues such as marking and labelling or sector-specific provisions, typically for electric and electronic products, pharmaceuticals or vehicles.

English

Keywords: non-tariff barriers, Regional Trade Agreements, TBT
JEL: F15: International Economics / Trade / Economic Integration; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
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