Regulatory policy

Recognition of international standards




Incorporation of international standards in legislative instruments by means of a reference to one or more standards or the replacement of entire text in the drafting of a code or regulation. Recognition and incorporation of international standards support regulatory alignment in sectors where trade is important by allowing harmonisation of technical specifications of products.



Number of ISO standards


‌‌The development and recognition of international standards has been boosted by the 1994 WTO agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, whose Article 2.4 stipulates: “Where technical regulations are required and relevant international standards exist or their completion is imminent, Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them, as a basis for their technical regulations except when such international standards or relevant parts would be an ineffective or inappropriate means for the fulfilment of the legitimate objectives pursued, for instance because of fundamental climatic or geographical factors or fundamental technological problems”.


This is for instance illustrated by the steady increase in standards produced by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, one of the bigger and long-established standard setting bodies, with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Electronic Commission (IEC), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.





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