Selected Observations on Regulation of Private Standards by the WTO
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The article inquires into the status of private standards under WTO law. In this context, it addresses two general questions: to what extent should the WTO Members be held responsible for adoption and maintenance of private standards and how probable is any formal dispute relating to private standards. These broad questions are accompanied by more detailed analysis of two specific WTO treaties: the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. In this regard, the author analyzes the schemes subject to regulation by each agreement (technical regulations, standards and SPS measures), the types of entities whose schemes are regulated (e.g., bodies and entities), and substantive requirements that are actually imposed on such schemes. The article concludes that applying these WTO agreements to private standards would likely cause big legal and interpretative controversies. It also recognized that, given the weak and vague regulations imposed on those non-governmental actors that are subject to WTO law under Articles 13 of the SPS Agreement and Articles 3 and 4 of the TBT Agreement, the 'winners' of any WTO dispute would most likely get a Pyrrhic victory.
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