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Do Bilateral and Regional Approaches for Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade Converge Towards the Multilateral Trading System?

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  • Caroline Lesser

    (OECD)

Abstract

As part of its work on regionalism, the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate has completed a series of studies that compare rule-making provisions in regional trade agreements with those in the World Trade Organisation (e.g., in the area of services, investment and competition). This paper aims to complement existing studies, by examining legal provisions regarding "technical barriers to trade" (i.e., technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures) in selected bilateral and regional trade agreements, and their degree of similarity and convergence with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and with each other. The study reveals that most provisions regarding technical barriers to trade (TBT) included in bilateral and regional trade agreements converge towards the multilateral trading system. When implemented effectively, agreements seeking deeper economic integration and regulatory cooperation, in particular, can complement and strengthen the implementation the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade by setting the pace for improved regulatory practices and TBT-related infrastructure in member countries (e.g., through regional consultation fora and joint standardisation and accreditation bodies). Some caveats however remain. When overlapping agreements promote different criteria for the harmonisation of standard-related measures and when bilateral or regional initiatives are conducted in isolation from international efforts and divert attention from multilateral trade and standards-related negotiations, new obstacles may arise both for regulators and businesses. Such constraints are further magnified for low income countries afflicted by administrative and technical capacity-related problems. To remedy these potential problems, the study proposes a number of policy recommendations.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Lesser, 2007. "Do Bilateral and Regional Approaches for Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade Converge Towards the Multilateral Trading System?," OECD Trade Policy Papers 58, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:traaab:58-en
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/051058723767
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia AUGIER & Olivier CADOT & Marion DOVIS, 2016. "Regulatory harmonization, profits, and productivity: Firm-level evidence from Morocco," Working Papers P162, FERDI.
    2. Henrik Horn & Petros C. Mavroidis & André Sapir, 2010. "Beyond the WTO? An Anatomy of EU and US Preferential Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1565-1588, November.
    3. Anne-Célia Disdier & Lionel Fontagné & Olivier Cadot, 2015. "North-South Standards Harmonization and International Trade," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 327-352.
    4. Lili Yan Ing & Olivier Cadot & Janine Walz, 2016. "Transparency in Non-tariff Measures: An International Comparison," Working Papers DP-2016-23, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    5. Olivier CADOT & Lili Yan ING, 2015. "Non-tariff Measures and Harmonisation: Issues for the RCEP," Working Papers DP-2015-61, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    6. Ann Capling, 2011. "A comparison of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and P4 Agreement," STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT,in: Trade-led growth: A sound strategy for Asia, chapter 6 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    7. repec:hal:psewpa:hal-00961733 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Olivier CADOT & Patricia AUGIER & Marion DOVIS, 2016. "Regulatory harmonization, profits, and productivity: Firm-level evidence from Morocco," Working Papers P162, FERDI.

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