Technical Barriers to Trade
What are technical barriers to trade (TBT)?
The World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (or the ‘TBT Agreement’) exists to ensure that technical regulations and procedures do not cause unnecessary barriers to international trade.
TBT measures include product-related technical regulations and standards, as well as procedures to assess compliance with the requirements set out in these regulations and standards, because technical regulations are mandatory.
TBT measures are used by a country for safety reasons, to protect the environment, to enhance national security, or to provide information to consumers, among other reasons.
What are examples of TBT measures?
TBT measures can take the following forms:
- testing and certification requirements to ensure product quality, safety, or performance;
- labelling, marking and packaging requirements;
- production or post-production requirements;
- product identity requirements;
- product quality, safety, or performance requirements.
Some examples of TBT measures include:
- packaging or labelling requirements, such as health warnings on tobacco products;
- regulations on product characteristics, such as energy performance requirements for electrical appliances;
- conformity assessment procedures, such as testing procedures for motor vehicle safety requirements.
How do I find information about TBT requirements that may apply to my products?
Exporters, or sellers, are responsible for complying with TBT measures applied in the target country and for providing all necessary documents. Trade agencies, industry associations, and chambers of commerce may offer resources such as newsletters, events, and online platforms to help businesses learn about TBT measures.
Businesses and governments can collaborate to address questions and potential trade issues related to notified TBT requirements using the national forums included in the tool. For any questions on technical regulations, procedures and standards in an export market, businesses can contact the TBT enquiry point in that market.
- Global Trade Helpdesk: This provides an overview of product TBT requirements for importers or exporters targeting foreign markets.
- Market Access Map: This displays specific TBT measures applicable to products that businesses may seek to import from targeted markets.
- Trade Analysis Information System (TRAINS): This presents an outlook of existing TBT measures worldwide and multiple features of non-tariff measures reported by 160 countries.
- World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS): This offers country profiles on TBT regulatory indicators, organized by product sectors.
Links to Supporting Information
World Trade Organization’s (WTO) information on technical regulations and standards WTO | Understanding the WTO – Standards and safety
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) International Classification of Non-Tariff Measures (Chapter B) International Classification of Non-tariff Measures – 2019 edition (unctad.org)
ITC UNCTAD WTO Global Trade Helpdesk
UNCTAD TRAINS Online (unctad.org)
World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) | Data on Export, Import, Tariff, NTM (worldbank.org)