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How to Encode Non-tariff Measures in Regional Trade Agreements?

The case of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

  • Author: UNCTAD
  • Publication date:
  • Page count: 52
  • Language(s) in this book: English

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ISBN: 9789210048446

About the product

Non-tariff measures (NTMs), such as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT), are used as policy instruments to protect health, safety and the environment. However, they also increase production and trade costs. An important component of such costs is the high divergence of regulations across countries. Producers have to comply with thousands of different regulations in their export markets. Policy makers increasingly aim to address this through provisions on regulatory cooperation such as mutual recognition or harmonization in regional trade agreements (RTA). This paper develops a systematic approach that allows to decode RTA provisions on NTMs according to the International Classification of NTMs so that (a) many details, such as whether individual provisions are enabling or restricting policy space, if provisions relate to regulations or procedural aspects, and levels of enforceability, can be analysed including across RTAs, (b) provisions can be better compared to relevant WTO agreements, and (c) the provisions can be compared to national regulations. We apply the methodology to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement and show that provisions in the area of conformity assessment dominate the SPS Chapter, while market authorization and labelling related provisions prevail in the TBT Chapter. The substantial degree of enforceability in both SPS and TBT chapters is likely to result in national legislative and institutional amendments.