The Use of International Standards in Technical Regulation
To what extent are governments drawing on relevant international standards in their technical regulations, as mandated by the WTO TBT Agreement? A number of sources of data exist, including electronic databases maintained by governments, but they cannot be used to obtain systematic, international perspective, because there is no harmonised international format and they are incomplete. This study develops an analytical frame for collecting and presenting data on the use of standards in regulation in any sector, as a basis for effective monitoring of the actual extent of use of international standards in regulation and for empirical analysis of the trade effects. This template is then applied to collect and report for five OECD countries detailed factual information on technical regulations, their objectives and standards use in three sectors – electrical household appliances, equipment for natural gas and telephony. The research finds that core government policies confirm the receptiveness of policy and regulation to the use of international standards. It illustrates the difficulty of identifying, for a given sector, which standards are used, for which regulatory objectives, and with which links – direct or indirect – to standards used internationally. The data collected in the harmonised format of the template show how transparency of data on standards use could be improved. Improved transparency can facilitate efforts to improve harmonisation where this can help to remove barriers to trade. Explicit identification of regulatory objectives can ensure that attempts to promote wider harmonisation take account of those objectives. Also, the range of non-national standards actually used as a basis for technical regulation is greater than sometimes acknowledged, and wider knowledge of their availability and use could be helpful to regulators. Another benefit of transparency is that factual presentations of the use of standards in technical regulations provide a source of rich and accurate data for use in empirical work on how regulatory use of standards influences international trade.
|Date of creation:||19 Jul 2010|
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