ADB Advances Harmonization of SPS/TBT Measures in the SASEC Subregion
4 October 2016
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), through the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program, is helping countries in the SASEC subregion—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka—harmonize two technical non-tariff measures to enhance intra-regional trade.
Under this technical assistance-supported initiative, a national diagnostic study on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) will be conducted in the six SASEC member countries, to be led by core committees formed by the six governments, in consultation with trade experts. Upon completion of the six diagnostic studies, ADB will prepare a regional diagnostic study that will propose measures to address SPS and TBT constraints within the SASEC region.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS Agreement safeguards the right of WTO members to protect health by ensuring that food is traded safely and that animal and plant pests or diseases are not spread through trade, while allowing the smooth flow of goods across international borders.
The WTO TBT Agreement recognizes WTO members' right to implement measures to achieve legitimate policy objectives, including protection of human health and safety, while ensuring that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. The TBT Agreement promotes (i) international standards as a basis for the technical measures, and (ii) transparency, to create a predictable trading environment.
In preparation for launching a national SPS/TBT diagnostic study, national consultations on SPS/TBT have been conducted in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. These consultations reviewed the terms of reference for the national SPS/TBT diagnostic studies; confirmed implementation arrangements; and agreed on the schedule for conducting the study. Consultations will also be held in India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.