Technical Barriers to Trade

The phrase “technical barriers to trade” refers to the use of regulatory process as a means of protecting domestic (local) manufacturers and service providers.

Technical barriers to trade (“TBTs”) are necessary because they protect consumer health, guard against deceptive practices, or prevent ecological or agricultural damage, among others.

On the downside, TBTs can sometimes be used as a protectionist measure by some countries. They can be used to discriminate against imports, to allow domestic businesses an advantage over foreign competition.

Technical barriers to trade fall into several categories:

  • Product identity requirements
  • Product regulations including labelling, marking and packaging requirements
  • Tolerance limits for residues and restricted use of substances
  • Production or post-production requirements
  • Product-quality or product-performance requirements
  • Voluntary product standards
  • Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and standards
  • Prohibitions/restrictions of imports of certain products
  • Conformity assessment procedures (i.e. any procedure used to determine that the relevant requirements of technical regulations or standards are fulfilled. For example: procedures for sampling, testing, inspection, evaluation, verification and assurance of conformity, registration, accreditation and approval)

If you are planning to export your goods and services, it pays to keep yourself informed about the Technical Barriers of Trade of that particular country that apply to you and make plans to overcome them.

The International Trade Council can help you stay abreast of the latest developments on relevant TBTs. Professional advice on TBTs is provided free of charge to members of the International Trade Council as a member-benefit.