Product standards and technical regulations are critical to industrial performance and global trade. Reform of national standards, testing, and product certification regimes represents an important new area for international debate. Government agreements to eliminate overlapping certification rules would significantly lower costs for business and consumers. Efforts to harmonize national regulatory systems could prove to be one of the most important parts of multilateral and regional trade talks into the 21st century. This study examines these issues in the context of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The research centers on (1) analysis of multilateral efforts to reduce technical barriers to trade through the GATT, (2) a critical examination of efforts at standards policy reform through APEC, and (3) development of a concrete and practical set of recommendations to support APEC's goal of open trade in the region by 2020. The work will result in a unique and timely contribution to policy debate for use by industry, government, and academic experts.
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