Regulatory co-operation

Regulatory co-operation
Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Dept. for Business, Innovation and Skills. Great Britain. Dept. for International Development
Date of publication
6 January 2012
Trade and Investment Analytical Papers. Topic 17 of 18
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business, Management & leadership: including strategy, public sector management, operations and production
Business and management
Material type

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This paper examines the issue of regulatory cooperation as a tool to promote international trade and identifies the main challenges facing UK policymakers. Evidence shows that non-tariff obstacles are often a bigger impediment to trade than import tariffs, in particular in the case of developing countries. On the other hand, these obstacles often stem from domestic regulations, which are enacted primarily to achieve valid domestic goals. Therefore, unlike tariffs they cannot be removed simply. Economists agree that regulatory measures are necessary to increase welfare by correcting market distortions, internalising externalities or addressing inequalities. However, they are often created with only domestic considerations in mind. As a result, their impacts on foreign suppliers are often unaccounted for. Furthermore, complexity and inherent differences in the international patterns of regulation generate additional costs for participation of trade. Reducing these constraints on trade would generate economic benefits and help boost economic growth. There is therefore clear justification for countries to reduce obstacles to trade stemming from disproportionate or discriminatory regulations. These can normally be addressed under WTO rules, but countries can also seek to reduce “behind the border” obstacles to trade by greater international regulatory cooperation. The Single Market is probably the most powerful example of international cooperation in this field, with mechanisms ranging from mutual recognition to harmonisation of rules and standards.

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