Markets working to support sustainable development

WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) looks to limit the negative impact that some regulations and standards may have on free trade, while also allowing members the right to implement legitimate policy objectives including the protection of fauna and flora.

The overarching goal of the aggreement is therefore ensure that ‘unnecessary obstacles to trade’ are avoided. Such obstacles may  include:

-       Regulation that is more restrictive than necessary to achieve a policy objective.

-       Regulation that does not fulfil a legitimate objective.

In this, the WTO and its members aim to prevent protectionism and secure free trade. But any WTO member country that is found to be violating TBT, as with other WTO agreements, is threatened with trade sanctions.


Market coverage: 

All WTO member-states are subject to the agreement on TBT.

Background information: 

TBT was agreed when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995.

As of October 2013, the WTO has 159 member-states who work toegther to agree on the rules that govern international trade, including technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures as well as intellectual property rights.

The overall goal of the WTO is ‘to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible’.


Funding source: 

Annual budget of approximately 196 million Swiss Francs, financed by member contributions.