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Technical Barriers to Trade

What are technical barriers to trade (TBT)? 

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. While conformity with standards is voluntary, 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; and 
  • 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; or conformity assessment procedures, such as testing procedures for motor vehicle safety requirements. 

For more information on what constitutes a TBT, see the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) information on Technical regulations and standards

For a complete list of different types of TBT measures, see the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) International Classification of Non-Tariff Measures (chapter B).

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 newsletters, events, and online platforms for businesses to learn about TBT measures applicable to their products. 

To stay informed on new or updated TBT requirements, businesses can register on ePing, an online tool, developed by the United Nations, the WTO, and the International Trade Centre (ITC). Via the ePing email alert service, businesses receive timely notifications of changes in TBT requirements on their products in targeted markets. ePing also contains a database of all measures notified by governments. 

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, conformity assessment procedures and standards in an export market, businesses can contact the TBT enquiry point in that market. A list of all TBT enquiry points can be accessed here: https://epingalert.org/en/EnquiryPoint/tbt-nep

What other tools can I use to identify TBT measures?

  1. Global Trade Helpdesk: This provides an overview of product requirements for importers or exporters targeting foreign markets. Visit the Global Trade Helpdesk.
  2. Market Access Map: This displays specific TBT measures that apply to products that businesses may seek to import from targeted markets. Visit the map.
  3. Trade Analysis Information System (TRAINS): This presents an outlook of TBT measures currently in place worldwide and multiple features of non-tariff measures reported by 160 countries. Visit the TRAINS
  4. World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS): This offers country profiles on TBT regulatory indicators, organized by product sectors. Visit the WITS.