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Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

Technical barriers to trade

The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. At the same time it also provides WTO members with the right to implement measures to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of human health and safety, or protection of the environment. Technical regulations and standards may vary from country to country, posing a challenge for producers and exporters. The TBT Agreement strongly encourages the use of international standards and aims to create a predictable trading environment through its transparency requirements.



News  back to top


TBT Agreement back to top

The full text of the TBT Agreement

What are technical barriers to trade? A brief introduction

WTO Agreement Series — Technical Barriers to Trade
An overview of the TBT Agreement, FAQs, the full legal text of the Agreement, and the decisions and recommendations adopted by the TBT Committee since 1 January 1995.


TBT Committee back to top

TBT Committee work involves two broad areas:

  • review of specific measures
    WTO members/observers use the TBT Committee to discuss specific trade concerns (STCs) — specific laws, regulations or procedures that affect their trade, usually in response to notifications. Essentially, members raise STCs to find out more about the scope and implementation of each other's regulations in light of the core TBT obligations (for example, regulating health without unnecessarily disrupting trade). The discussion is mostly about measures in the pipeline, but can also be about the implementation of existing measures. To date, more than 400 "STCs" have been raised which can be accessed through the TBT Information Management System TBT IMS — the database of WTO information on TBT notifications, specific trade concerns, enquiry points, etc.
  • strengthening implementation of the TBT Agreement
    Members exchange experiences on the implementation of the Agreement with a view to making implementation more effective and efficient. This discussion revolves around generic, cross-cutting themes, including transparency, standards, conformity assessment and good regulatory practice.

Over the years, the Committee has developed a series of decisions and recommendations intended to facilitate implementation of the TBT Agreement. The latest decisions and recommendations adopted by the Committee can be found here.

Meetings of the TBT Committee back to top

    The Committee usually holds three formal meetings per year. Meetings are open to all WTO members and observer governments. International intergovernmental organizations — several of them standardizing bodies — also participate as observers in the Committee. See also rules of procedure for meetings of the Committee and guidelines for observer status.

    The current chair of the TBT Committee is .

    Search here for TBT official documents using various criteria


Annual reviews back to top

The Committee is mandated to conduct an annual review of activities relating to the implementation and operation of the TBT Agreement, including notifications, specific trade concerns, technical assistance activities, and TBT related disputes. The latest Annual Review report was adopted in March 2014.

All annual reviews


Triennial reviews back to top

The TBT Committee is mandated to review the operation and implementation of the TBT Agreement on a triennial basis. The Seventh Triennial Review is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.

> More on triennial reviews


Members’ transparency toolkit

Transparency is a cornerstone of the TBT Agreement and consists of three core elements:

  • notifications
  • establishment of enquiry points
  • publication requirements.

This toolkit contains information on the transparency obligations and procedures, and related work in the Committee, as well as other resources.


Disputes back to top

Disputes citing the TBT Agreement

Find jurisprudence concerning the TBT Agreement:


 What's new  

4 November 2014:
Thematic session on conformity assessment procedures and technical assistance and special and differential treatment



14 November  2014:
TBT Technical Assistance Activities in 2014 - 2015 G/TBT/GEN/171/Rev.1


3 October 2014:
WTO Public Forum — Session on Nutritional Labelling


18-19 June  2014:
TBT Committee Regular Meeting, Geneva G/TBT/M/63


18 June 2014:
Committee agrees on Coherent Use of Notification Formats G/TBT/35


17 June 2014:
Thematic Session on transparency (Informal meeting, Geneva) G/TBT/GEN/167


Older events



Agreement series — TBT
An overview of the TBT Agreement


World Trade Report 2012
A closer look at non-tariff measures


World Trade Report 2011
Deeper integration (PTAs), including on regulatory matters


World Trade Report 2005
A closer look at standards


WTO Agreements and Public Health — A joint study by WHO and the WTO Secretariat