Volume 52 (2018) / Issue 5
In the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, a standard is a voluntary document that prescribes product and production characteristics, and its compliance is a crucial legal element that distinguishes it from a mandatory technical regulation. However, the lack of a sufficiently clear definition for ‘standards’ causes regulatory uncertainty. This article considers the concept ‘standard’ from a developmental perspective; it specifically explores the textual evolution of its meaning during negotiations of the GATT/WTO TBT Agreements. Its main findings suggest that, since its initial incorporation in a draft text of the GATT, the term has been substantially modified throughout negotiations, particularly through the process of ECE/ISO harmonization during the Tokyo Round. There is also consistent evidence that the concept has developed to be considerably TBT-specific, albeit increasingly departed from the concept ‘technical regulation’.
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