Technical Barriers to Trade

Technical barriers to trade are impediments to the international trade of goods. They result from different technical regulations, a different application of such regulations or the non-recognition of conformity assessments carried out in another country. Technical regulations apply, for example, to the composition, the packaging or the manufacturing of a product. They serve a greater public interest, such as public health and safety or the protection of the environment.

Switzerland has three instruments to reduce technical barriers to trade:

  1. the autonomous harmonisation of Swiss technical regulations with those of the most important trade partners;
  2. the conclusion of international agreements to this effect; and
  3. the autonomous application of the «Cassis de Dijon principle». 

All three instruments are based on the Federal Law on Technical Barriers to Trade

The multilateral agreements of the WTO set out the international framework for the prevention and reduction of technical barriers to trade (TBT and SPS agreements). Switzerland also aims to further reduce technical barriers to trade through its bilateral free trade agreements.  

An overview of the Swiss technical regulations and measures to facilitate imports based on international agreements or the «Cassis de Dijon principle» can be found on SECO's Import Platform.  

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA)

In a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), the importing country pledges to recognise, under certain conditions, the conformity assessments carried out in the exporting country and vice versa.

Notification of technical regulations

In order to place goods on the market, domestic or international, any applicable technical regulation must be respected. International agreements stipulate that WTO members must be notified before technical regulations are passed or amended by a country. This procedure is called «notification».

Import Platform

For further information on how to place goods on the Swiss market and what regulations need to be met, please access the Import Platform.

«Cassis de Dijon principle»

According to the «Cassis de Dijon principle», products legally placed on the market in the EU and/or the EEA can be placed on the market in Switzerland without any further conformity assessment, although there are exceptions to the principle.

Conformity Assessment – Accreditation  

To ensure conformity with the technical regulations, a country defines conformity assessment procedures which attest that products meet all the applicable technical regulations. The competence of conformity assessment bodies is assessed and formally confirmed through an accreditation process.

Standardisation

The use of standards facilitate global trade. The interaction between technical regulations and standards as well as the duties of the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) are explained here.

Specialist staff
Last modification 26.02.2018

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