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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

Trade, Testing and Toasters

Conformity Assessment Procedures and the TBT Committee

Even if traders adapt to technical regulations and standards in an export market, they still must prove compliance by undergoing conformity assessment procedures (CAPs), such as testing, inspection, or certification. Duplication, delays or discrimination in CAPs can significantly increase trade costs, and this risk is reflected in the growing importance of CAPs in WTO discussions and bilateral and regional free trade agreements. This paper conducts an empirical study of the trade issues that WTO Members encounter with CAPs as described in specific trade concerns (STCs) raised in the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) during 2010-2014. We observe that CAPs raise proportionally more concern among WTO Members than technical regulations do, and that testing and certification are the procedures that most frequently give rise to trade problems. Within the framework of the TBT Agreement, we find that questions around transparency and whether CAPs create unnecessary barriers to trade are the two most prominent issues highlighted by Members.

English

Keywords: technical barriers to trade, international trade, international cooperation, certification, international standards, testing, coherence, non-tariff barriers, conformity assessment procedures, regulation
JEL: F55: International Economics / International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy / International Institutional Arrangements; F53: International Economics / International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy / International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations; L51: Industrial Organization / Regulation and Industrial Policy / Economics of Regulation; K33: Law and Economics / Other Substantive Areas of Law / International Law; L15: Industrial Organization / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance / Information and Product Quality; Standardization and Compatibility
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