Non-Tariff Barriers

This is an approach used to restrict trade through the use of trade barriers. It can occur as a result of specific market requirements that make that may make the importation and exportation of items difficult. Some of these barriers comprise of the use of quotas, levies, embargos, and sanctions. Other methods include the use of subsidies and government procurement.[1] This approach can be used to protect local firms from competition emanating from external entities. Besides, it can also be used to punish those states that embezzle public funds or do not respect democracy. In this case, sanctions can be imposed against these countries.


This refers to a technical term that stands for Technical barriers to trade. Article 12.4 suggests that member states do not have to base their technical standards or conformity evaluation on global standards. Additionally, TBT has a better mechanism of solving disputes by following the provisions of Articles XXII and XXIII of GAAT. [2]The measure ensures that nations that have signed the agreement carry out their operations smoothly. The TBT covenant applies to a variety of agricultural and industrial products. Specification and measures for government procurement are covered by separate contracts. Standards, conformity assessment, and technical regulations procedures are to be created and applied without any form of discrimination. It should be transparent and should be based on global standards and guidelines.


According to Article 10,TBT aims at enhancing trade and transparency and notification provision concerning evaluation procedures among all the member states. It also enables the standardising bodies to release a report after every six months about their work program. They also report about the progress in the preparation and adoption standards. These procedures aim at reducing discriminatory practices that can hinder trade among nations. Additionally, TBT exists to ensure that technical guidelines, testing, accreditation, and standards do not act as a barrier to trade.[3] Therefore, it opposes all technical requirements developed with the aim of limit trade. It should only permit technical requirements developed for legal purposes such as environmental and consumer protection. The two measures are vital as they ensure that business people do not exploit the customer. Besides, it provides that businesses carry out their activities in a clean environment. Another purpose of TBT is to recorgnise all the WTO members and safeguards their interests in the process of conducting business. The need to protect legal interests also includes the defend animal and human health. This is because the two are the largest consumer of the goods produced. Article 12 also indicates that TBT was introduced to give favourable trade terms to the developing nations. This is done by considering their trade and financial interests while implementing the agreement. As a result, this can assist these nations to thrive in business in the future.


Structure of the agreement

The TBT covenant is divided into five different portions. The initial one talks about the scope of the contract which comprises of all the products. Some of these items include agricultural and industrial goods. It excludes the sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The latter aims at safeguarding animals and human from diseases. The second section sets principles and obligations regarding technical regulations.

Moreover, the third part deals with matters such as conformity and valuations. The fourth portion emphasizes on the need to share information among nations and assist each other in drafting technical guidelines. The other segment talks about the development of a committee on technical barriers. It has the obligation of settling any disputes that might arise while conducting trade. As a result, the step will ensure that the business continues smoothly among the member states. Ultimately, it can assist nations in building a symbiotic relationship while trading with each other.


Many benefits were associated with TBT previously. However, it also has several shortcomings which can pose a severe threat to the member states and the consumers of products. First, the covenant disagrees to any technical requirements developed to limit trade. This is even though there might be genuine concerns of prohibiting trade like environmental conservation and consumer protection. Thus, counterfeit items might find their way into the market.[4] Therefore, consumers might not get value for their money. The items may also satisfy their needs since they might fail to meet the demands of the clients. The developing nations can sometimes face sanctions if they disagree with the big economies like the west.

Moreover, there are some occasions where the member states might have unresolvable disagreements with each other. This can sway some of the nations to exit this trading block. Such a step will hurt member states. It can weaken their strength hence making it difficult to attain their objectives. Finally, countries that have signed the agreement may not share the same ideologies. Some can support capitalist views while others may advocate for socialist ideals. This can create conflicts among the member nations. Thus, making them lose focus on their primary objectives.

Many benefits can arise as a result of legal harmonization within the context of global trade law. The primary focus will on its development and impacts on developing nations across the world.Mayeda Graham describes disharmony as the conflict that is likely to occur among the trading countries. It can arise where the interests of other nations are not considered during the decision making process. Besides, it can happen if other states are benefiting than others.[5] Therefore, this disharmony can be eliminated by removing all discriminative practices in trade. Consequently, it is essential to know that harmonization cannot be able to deal with development issues. This coordination among nations can have positive and negative impacts on developing countries. First, it can help countries to deal with health, technical and safety standards. It can also assist the third-world nations to extend their operations between their borders besides enjoying the economies of scale in business.

However, harmonisation has its shortcomings to the developing nations. First, it fails to recorgnise that governments can adopt regulations and legal establishments to local conditions. Countries with more restrictive environmental standards can significantly increase the prices of products than those with lenient rules. Therefore, some of these goods might not be affordable for the customers. In the long run, such a step can impose an economic burden on the customers in the future. From this discussion, it is evident that international trade has benefits and demerits to developing nations. Nevertheless, the advantages of participating outweigh its short-comings. SPS and TBT measures and points the need for expecting related effects on other areas where global trade promotes legal harmonisation.



















Kiyotaki FT Miyakawa, ‘Barriers To Global Free Trade Through Bilateral Agreements’ (2013) 21 Review of International Economics

Mayeda G, ‘Developing Disharmony? The SPS And TBT Agreements And The Impact Of Harmonization On Developing Countries’ (2004) 7 Journal of International Economic Law

Matsushita, Mitsuo, Thomas J. Schoenbaum, Petros C. Mavroidis, and Michael Hahn. The World Trade Organization: Law, Practice, and Policy. , 2015. Print.

Milliner R, ‘Promoting Growth By Reducing Barriers To Trade’ (2014) 2014 International Trade Forum

Trebilcock M, R HowseA Eliason, The Regulation Of International Trade (Routledge 2013)



[2]Mayeda G, ‘Developing Disharmony? The SPS And TBT Agreements And The Impact Of Harmonization On Developing Countries’ (2004) 7 Journal of International Economic Law

[3] Matsushita, Mitsuo, Thomas J. Schoenbaum, Petros C. Mavroidis, and Michael Hahn. The World Trade Organization: Law, Practice, and Policy. , 2015. Print.

[4] Milliner R, ‘Promoting Growth By Reducing Barriers To Trade’ (2014) 2014 International Trade Forum

[5] Trebilcock M, R Howse Eliason, The Regulation Of International Trade (Routledge 2013)

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