The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) includes rules for handling technical requirements and allows them if they are “necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health”. However, they must not lead to unjustifiable discrimination or be a disguised restriction on international trade. The rules are manifested in two specific agreements:
- The TBT Agreement (the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement) covers technical regulations, standards and conformity assessments procedures for all product areas.
- The SPS Agreement (the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement) covers sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
A large number of technical requirements are harmonised within the European Union, meaning that the same rules apply for a product in all Member States. Some regulations are however still set at a national level.
While import tariffs have been significantly reduced in recent years, the number of technical regulations and standards adopted by countries is increasing. It is therefore extremely important to be aware of the technical requirements in countries where a product is exported. Open Trade Gate Sweden helps exporters from developing countries with information about technical requirements free of charge. Inquiries about specific products can either be sent to us via e-mail or by using our inquiry form.
According to the WTO/TBT Agreement member countries are obliged to establish Enquiry points for information on their technical regulations, standards etc. Contact details of all countries Enquiry points can be found at the WTO website. The National Board of Trade is the Enquiry point for Sweden.