The Case of the WTO's TBT/SPS Agreements and Committees
The WTO plays an important role in supporting efforts to achieve international regulatory
cooperation (IRC) and to facilitate trade. First, the WTO provides a multilateral
framework for trade among its 164 members, with a view to ensuring that trade flows
as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. Second, the WTO’s Agreements provide
important legal disciplines, helping to promote good regulatory practice and IRC at
the domestic level as a means of reducing unnecessary barriers to trade.
This publication highlights how the WTO’s Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade
(TBT) and on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and the
work of their related Committees promote opportunities for regulatory cooperation
among governments and ease trade frictions. It demonstrates how members’ notification
of draft measures, harmonisation of measures with international standards, discussion
of specific trade concerns and other practices help to facilitate global trade in
goods. The study also makes recommendations on how to benefit further from the transparency
and cooperation opportunities provided by the TBT and SPS Agreements.
This publication explores how the WTO promotes opportunities for international regulatory cooperation (IRC) between WTO members, focusing on the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreements and their related Committees.
The WTO plays an important role in supporting efforts to facilitate trade through regulatory cooperation:
It provides a multilateral framework for the conduct of trade relations among its 164 members, with a view to ensuring that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible;
the WTO Agreements set important legal disciplines promoting good regulatory practice (GRP) and IRC at the domestic level in view of reducing unnecessary barriers to trade.
In particular, the SPS and TBT Agreements:
provide a multilateral transparency framework through notification requirements for proposed regulatory measures;
encourage WTO members to use relevant international standards as the basis for their measures;
and promote equivalence and recognition of foreign conformity assessment results to reduce duplicative enforcement requirements and procedures.
To support implementation and operation of these disciplines, the SPS and TBT Committees provide a forum for countries to learn about each other’s regulatory systems, discuss draft and implemented regulations affecting international trade, raise “specific trade concerns” on draft measures that may create unnecessary obstacles to trade, and adopt guidance tools to better and more efficiently implement specific provisions of the SPS and TBT Agreements.