Standards and Technical Regulations and Firms in Developing Countries: New Evidence from A World Bank Technical Barriers to Trade Survey

Lead author: John Wilson       Year: 2004      

Publication Abstract

The use of standards and technical regulations as instruments of commercial policy in unilateral, regional, and global trade contexts has increased as tariff and quota barriers continue to decline (Maskus and Wilson, 2001). Standards and technical regulations are principally used to mitigate food, animal and plant safety risks, and to provide common norms for product characteristics. However, these technical requirements also can constitute barriers to trade by imposing unnecessary costly and time consuming tests or by laying out various requirements in different markets. These technical requirements are of particular concern to developing countries that are seeking to penetrate industrialized country markets. The World Bank Technical Barriers to Trade Survey is the first attempt to globally investigate the impacts of technical requirements. The intent of the survey is to solicit input from agricultural, manufacturing, and trade firms in various emerging market countries regarding technical barriers encountered abroad, which impact their ability to successfully export products. The data collected covers 689 firms in over twenty industries in 17 developing countries. One of the main goals of this survey project is the evaluation of the impact of standards and technical barriers to trade at the firm level. This paper will provide a comprehensive description of the World Bank Technical Barriers to Trade Survey dataset. This paper also will provide an overview of domestic and foreign technical regulations, international standards, and other various impediments to business and export surrounding the firms in developing countries as well as their response to the situation. The comparison is made across countries and industries regarding standards and regulations, and their impacts on firms’ production and conformance activities. Information on technical regulations specific to five major export markets also enables us to compare the stringency and importance of technical regulations by export markets such as the EU, the US, Japan, Canada, and Australia.


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  • Publication type:

    • Institutional publication
  • Other authors:

    • John Wilson
    • Tsunehiro Otsuki