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:
- the autonomous harmonisation of Swiss technical regulations with those of the most important trade partners;
- the conclusion of international agreements to this effect; and
- 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.