Non-Tariff Barriers and Regulatory Issues

  • We seek to eliminate or reduce non-tariff barriers that decrease opportunities for U.S. exports, provide a competitive advantage to products of the EU, or otherwise distort trade, such as unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions that are not based on science, unjustified technical barriers to trade (TBT), and other “behind-the-border” barriers, including the restrictive administration of tariff-rate quotas and permit and licensing barriers, which impose unnecessary costs and limit competitive opportunities for U.S. exports.
  • While maintaining the level of health, safety and environmental protection our people have come to expect, we seek greater compatibility of U.S. and EU regulations and related standards development processes, with the objective of reducing costs associated with unnecessary regulatory differences and facilitating tradeinter alia by promoting transparency in the development and implementation of regulations and good regulatory practices, establishing mechanisms for future progress, and pursuing regulatory cooperation initiatives where appropriate;
  • We seek to build on key principles and disciplines of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) through strong cross-cutting disciplines and, as appropriate, through sectoral approaches, to achieve meaningful market access, and establish ongoing mechanisms for improved dialogue and cooperation on TBT issues;
  • We seek to build on key principles and disciplines of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) to achieve meaningful market access, including commitments to base SPS measures on science and international standards or scientific risk assessments, apply them only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health, and develop such measures in a transparent manner, without undue delay; and to establish an on-going mechanism for improved dialogue and cooperation addressing bilateral SPS issues.

Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) can decrease market opportunities for U.S. exports and provide unfair competitive advantages to EU products.  These barriers take the form of restrictive licensing, permitting, and other requirements applied at the border, but also barriers behind the border, such as unwarranted technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.  Through T-TIP, we seek to identify ways to reduce costs associated with regulatory differences by promoting greater compatibility between our systems, while maintaining our high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection.  Achieving an outcome that results in greater transparency, participation, and accountability in regulatory processes is also critical to addressing and preventing NTBs, and why we have made that a key part of our approach in T-TIP.

With respect to TBT, the United States and the EU already have a shared commitment and responsibility to prevent and reduce unnecessary TBTs through the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.  But we know we can do more.  Achieving our TBT objectives in T-TIP would mean going beyond existing commitments by setting us on a path to increase transparency and openness in the development of standards and technical regulations, ensure that U.S. bodies are permitted to test and certify products sold in Europe, promote EU recognition of international standards used to support global trade by U.S. exporters and producers, and establish an ongoing mechanism to discuss TBT concerns.  Not only would our companies be more competitive, innovative, and efficient as a result, but T-TIP could set a positive example to other countries around the world.  

For more information on TBT, visit

With respect to SPS, ensuring that the rules governing agricultural and food products are based on science and do not pose unwarranted obstacles to trade is as important to American farmers and ranchers as eliminating tariffs and quotas.  If we successfully address certain SPS barriers in T-TIP, Europeans will be able to enjoy safe, high-quality U.S. beef, pork, poultry, and other products that we currently ship to consumers all over the world.  In addition to eliminating barriers and opening markets for our farmers and ranchers, we seek to have the EU provide greater regulatory transparency and to engage in regular dialogues to help prevent barriers from being erected in the first place. 

For more information on SPS, visit

With respect to “regulatory coherence and transparency,” T-TIP offers an opportunity to develop cross-cutting disciplines on regulatory practices that have long been known to support economic growth, market integration, and removal of “behind the border” trade barriers.  This includes the promotion of greater transparency, participation and accountability in the development of regulations.  It also includes evidence-based analysis and decision-making, and a whole-of-government approach to regulatory management.  Giving stakeholders – public and private, foreign and domestic – adequate opportunity to comment on proposed regulations and ensuring that regulatory processes not only respect the democratic principles on which our laws are built, but provide regulators with input from a wide range of stakeholders.  Transparent regulatory processes ensure better quality regulations that can achieve important objectives, such as protecting health, safety and the environment.  On the other hand, a lack of transparency and accountability in regulatory and standards processes can lead to unnecessary, costly, or duplicative rules that reduce our competitiveness and act as discriminatory barriers to U.S. exporters.  Embracing sound regulatory objectives in T-TIP will not only draw our economies closer together, but will serve as a positive example for third-country markets around the world.

Finally, the United States and EU will be examining ways to increase regulatory compatibility in specific sectors through a range of regulatory cooperation tools as well as other steps aimed at reducing or eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences.  With extensive input from stakeholders, and in collaboration with our regulators, we aim to promote greater regulatory compatibility while maintaining our high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection.