As tariff barriers, of traditional and typical policy instruments in international trade, have been reduced significantly under preferential trade agreements as well as the multilateral trading system, non-tariff measures (NTMs), especially those of technical barriers to trade (TBT), become more and more important as means to control international trade. This study is to analyze and better understand TBT or more accurately, technical measures. Based on the analysis, it will attempt to identify some implications and ways to reduce TBT or to facilitate international trade, and ultimately contribute to enhancing economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
The characteristics and trends of technical measures can be best identified and evaluated by the notifications of WTO members according to the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement), discussions in the WTO TBT Committee - especially specific trade concerns (STCs), and dispute settlement cases in TBT related issues. In fact, the number of TBT notifications have surged as various and comprehensive legitimate objectives of technical regulations were allowed and on other backgrounds since the launch of the WTO in 1995. It is noted, however, that TBT notifications are not regarded as TBT itself but as “potential” TBTs in this study.
To analyze the trends and characteristics of TBT measures, this study utilizes the information in the WTO TBT notifications, STCs, and dispute settlement cases related to the TBT Agreement. Focus will be on the APEC member economies. Some trends and characteristics of TBT measures by the objective of regulation, by commodity, and by the country notified (e.g., developed and developing economies) will be analyzed and identified. Some of implications from the results are as follows. Due to the fact that technical measures are mostly domestic regulations but controlled at the border to restrict market access, there needs to be consultation, cooperation and harmonization of regulation rather than competition and retaliation.
There also needs to be developed a system for information and experience exchange, capacity building including on development and implementation of standards, technical regulation, and conformity assessment procedures, especially for developing economies. APEC is well positioned to lead international cooperation in TBT with its diverse members and related specific institutions.[by abstract]