Technical barriers to trade chapter summary
The protection of health, safety and the environment is accomplished through regulatory measures, such as technical regulations, standards and conformity assessments. For instance, electrical devices, such as cellphones, must conform to a standard for radiation levels in order to ensure they are safe for use. In an international trade context, measures that are discriminating or that create unnecessary obstacles to trade are referred to as “technical barriers to trade” (TBT). Trading partners negotiate commitments related to TBT in trade agreements to ensure regulations are no more restrictive of trade than necessary to meet a party’s legitimate objective.
The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) TBT chapter replaces and improves upon the original NAFTA standards-related measures chapter. It also builds upon the commitments of the three parties in the existing WTO Agreement on Technical Trade Barriers, namely in the area of transparency. The chapter complements the parties’ CUSMA commitments and helps to secure the market access gains made in other parts of the Agreement. It ensures that technical regulations and standards are applied equally to products and goods originating from one of the three countries, and where differences arise, the chapter seeks to promote convergence of the respective practices, where possible, while protecting each party’s right to regulate in its own best interests.
Technical summary of negotiated outcomes: Technical barriers to trade
- Incorporates specific obligations from the WTO TBT agreement.
- Promotes the use of international standards and acknowledges their role in supporting greater regulatory alignment and in reducing unnecessary barriers to trade.
- Provides national treatment for conformity assessment bodies (e.g. laboratories, inspection or certification bodies) between the CUSMA parties including procedures, criteria, fees, and other conditions relating to accrediting, approving, licensing, or recognizing conformity assessment bodies.
- Recognizes the importance of transparency beyond each party’s WTO TBT agreement obligations and reflects decisions by the WTO TBT Committee.
- Allows persons of another party to participate in the development of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures by its central government bodies on terms no less favourable than those that it accords to its own persons.
- Normally provides a period of not less than six months as a reasonable interval between publication of technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures and their entry into force so that businesses will have sufficient time to meet new technical requirements.
- Promotes information exchange and technical discussions between the parties so that concerns may be addressed and dealt with as quickly as possible.
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