Product Standards for Internationally Integrated Goods Markets
Product standards, regulations, and conformity assessment procedures are important and necessary, but they also, at times, threaten the free flow of goods in international markets and the competitive positions of many exporters, including those in the United States. The barriers to trade that may result form product standards and regulations may be inadvertent or deliberate. The problem cuts across a wide array of industries, from motor vehicles to computers to televisions to food and beverages.
This book, part of the Brookings Integrating National Economies series, is the first to blend careful economic and legal analysis of technical barriers. Alan O. Sykes illustrates how standards and regulations create trade barriers, explores the extent of the problem, and considers the possible policy responses.
The effects of technical barriers are hard to measure. They are often hidden in the costs of modifying a product to meet a standard or regulation, in the costs of testing and certification procedures, and in the ways that noncompliance with a standard may affect consumer purchasing decisions. Sykes identifies why heterogeneity in standards and regulations may arise across jurisdictions and assesses the desirability of eliminating it in various settings.
Sykes also presents an extensive and insightful overview of current international efforts to police technical barriers in the WTO/GATT system, in the European Union, in the U.S. federal system, and NAFTA. He shows how least-restrictive means principles and their corollaries can do much to reduce technical barriers, while stopping short of impinging on the legitimate exercise of national sovereignty.
Efforts to harmonize internatioal policies and set common standards and regulations have been under way for decades. Sykes evaluates the harmonization activities of institutions such as the International Organization for Standardization, the Codex Alimentarius, and the European Commission. The final chapter assesses the adequacy of existing efforts to address technical barriers, suggesting where further progress might be made, and discusses the special problems of developing countries.
A volume of Brookings' Integrating National Economies Series
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Scope of the Study
Overview of Principal Conclusions
Nature and Scope of the Problem
Health and Safety Regulations
Uruguay Round Agreements
Summary and Recapitulation for the GATT System
Technical Barriers and the European Union
Legislative Approach in Europe
Role of the Judiciary in Europe
Summary and Recapitulation for Europe
Note on the US Federal System
Note on the North American Free Trade Agreement
Other Consumer Protection Regulations
Conformity Assessment Procedures
Some Economics of Product Standardization Regulation and Conformity Assessment
Economic Issues in Conformity Assessment
Models for Avoiding and Policing Technical Barriers
Overview of International Standardization Organizations
Effectiveness of the International Organizations
Technical Barriers and the GATT System
Technical Barriers under the Original GATT Agreement
Implications Adequacy of the Existing Approach and Prospects for the Future
Quality Labeling and Conformity Issues
LeastRestrictive Means and Related Principles
Decentralized Policing of Policy Goals and Objectives
Note on Developing Countries
Technical Barriers Agreements Concluded during the Uruguay Round