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Standards, Regulatory Reform and Development in APEC: Case Studies of Vietnam and Thailand

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  • Adam McCarty

    (Institute of Social Studies, The Hague)

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    This paper assesses the challenges confronting developing countries in APEC in their reform and modernisation of standards systems and related infrastructure. Vietnam and Thailand are examined as case studies. In both cases the move to internationalise standards and the quality of services strengthened during the 1990s. Technical capacities remain weak, but are improving in line with industry demands. Vietnam, in particular, has initiated a wide-ranging transition from a central planning government-led system of mandatory standards, to one now based on international norms and voluntary standards. Weaknesses in procedural rules and conformity assessment remain, dialogue with industry, and competition to encourage more rapid progress is limited. In both countries, some standards and technical regulations (STRs) seem designed to be barriers to trade, but much fewer than in most developed country APEC economies. Protection in Vietnam, and even still in Thailand, mostly comes through crude policy instruments such as tariffs, quotas and bans. Policy makers in these countries sometimes view STRs as an acceptable, and indeed desirable “loophole” for maintaining protection within ASEAN, APEC and WTO protocols. The actions of developed countries do nothing to dispel this view. There is a “window of opportunity” to strengthen the institutional framework of systems in developing countries to avoid the mistakes of those who came before, and to make the abuse of STRs as trade barriers more difficult for protectionist interest groups.

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Trade with number 0110002.

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    Length: 53 pages
    Date of creation: 11 Oct 2001
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpit:0110002
    Note: Type of Document - ; pages: 53; figures: included. Prepared for the World Bank Conference - "Trade Facilitation and APEC: New Directions and the Development Challenge" Singapore 12-14 September, 2000.
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