Environmental, health and sanitary standards required by developed countries are sometimes perceived as new non-tariff barriers to trade by developing countries. Environment-related trade measures can take several forms, such as technical standards and regulations, certain sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, packaging regulations, labelling requirements, non-automatic licences, quantitative restrictions, taxes and charges, as well as informal (nongovernment) requirements.
The WTO secretariat has compiled a database of environment-related notifications. The complexity of the concept of environmental standards is evident from the ambiguity in the categories of these notifications. The WTO secretariat notes that environment-related notifications can broadly be grouped in two categories. The first consists of those notifications that list environmental or related factors as the principal objective for notifying. The provisions of the GATT 1994 and the WTO Agreements that refer explicitly or are generally regarded as related to environmental objectives include the following:1
Annex 2 paragraph 12 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA);
Article 5 paragraph 2 of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures (SPS);
Articles 2 and 5 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT);
Article XIV (b) of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS);
Article 27.2 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS);
Article XX (b) and (g) of the GATT 1994.
The second category includes notifications 'that are not primarily environment-related, but include reference to environment-related aspects'. For instance, notifications containing the text of regional trade agreements may include a clause for a specific environmental provision. In such cases, reference is made only to the environmental objective or criteria. The notifications might comprise, and usually do contain, broader objectives or other criteria.