General negotiating themes
» General terms
» Agriculture
» Competition Policy
» Customs Procedures
» Dispute Settlement
» Government Procurement
» Intellectual Property Rights
» Investment
» Origin Regime
» Safeguards
» Services
» Subsidies, Anti-dumping and
   Countervailing Duties
» Tariffs and Non Tariff Measures
» Technical Barriers to Trade


The intent of this dictionary was to produce a broad listing of terms, which are commonly used in trade negotiations and especially within the context of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) with a view to providing an information tool for the public at large. The dictionary is presented in the four official languages of the FTAA: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The compilation does not attempt to present the entire universe of terms used nor does it seek to prejudge or to affect in any way definitions or approaches currently proposed by any country in any trade negotiation. In fact, many of the definitions included in the publicly-available Draft FTAA Agreement which are still the subject of difficult debates have been excluded from this dictionary. The definitions are based on widely available source material including other trade agreements.

An alphabetical listing of the terms is included to facilitate the use of the dictionary. The terms and their definitions are presented by general negotiating theme found in the FTAA and in other trade negotiations.

An electronic version of this document can be found on the following websites: IADB, OAS,  and ECLAC.




Accreditation Accreditation, as defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:1996, is the “procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.” This is a means of determining the competence of bodies or persons to perform specific types of testing, measurement and calibration, providing formal recognition to competent bodies or persons, thus providing confidence that the customer will have access to reliable testing and calibration services.
Calibration Calibration is the determination, by measurement or comparison with a standard, of the correct value of a reading on a measuring instrument.
Certificate of conformity A certificate of conformity is a document, tag, label, or nameplate, provided on delivery to the buyer that attests a product, process, or service’s compliance with standards or technical regulations.
Certification Certification, as defined by ISO/IEC Guide 2:1996, is “a procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements.”
Code of Good Practice The Code of Good Practice, Annex 3 of the WTO TBT Agreement, provides disciplines, including those related to transparency, for the preparation, adoption and application of standards by standardizing bodies. The Code’s acceptance is voluntary  and open to any standardizing body, whether central government, local government or non-governmental and regional standardizing bodies.
Conformity assessment procedure Conformity assessment procedures are technical procedures - such as, testing, verification, and certification – used to determine that goods or services fulfill the requirements laid down in technical regulations and standards.
Enquiry point An Enquiry Point is a focal point, established under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, where other WTO Members can request and obtain  information and documentation on a Member's technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures, whether impending or adopted, as well as on participation in bilateral or plurilateral standards-related agreements, international or regional standardizing bodies and conformity assessment systems.
Equivalence   Equivalence means the acceptance of the technical regulation or conformity assessment procedure of another party as fulfilling the same legitimate objectives as  do one’s own technical regulation or conformity assessment procedures, even if this fulfillment is reached through different means.
Industrial metrology Industrial metrology is the area of metrology that concerns assuring the accuracy of the instruments used and measurements made.
Legal metrology Legal metrology is that area of metrology that concerns the regulation of weighing and measuring instruments used in commercial transactions.
Legitimate objectives The WTO TBT agreement specifies that technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfill a legitimate objective. Legitimate objectives specified under the TBT Agreement are, inter alia: national security requirements; the prevention of deceptive practices; protection of human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment. In assessing such risks, relevant elements of consideration are, inter alia: available scientific and technical information related processing technology or intended end-uses of products.
Metrology Metrology is the science of weights and measures. In the area of trade, metrology includes all technical procedures concerned with the maintenance of the accuracy and international reproducibility of measuring instruments and with all procedures implemented in order to specify and to ensure the quality and credibility of measurements related to official controls, trade, health, safety and the environment.
Mutual recognition agreement A mutual recognition agreement is a formal agreement between two countries that provides for a reciprocal reliance upon facets of each other's regulatory systems, to the degree specified in the agreement.
Scientific metrology Scientific metrology is the area of metrology that deals with the organization and development of measurement standards and with their maintenance.
Standard A standard is a document approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for goods or services, or related processes and production methods. Standards are generally established by consensus in technical committees of experts; compliance is not mandatory.
Supplier’s declaration of conformity/ Manufacturer’s declaration of conformity Also referred to as “self-certification”, supplier’s or manufacturer’s declaration of conformity is a process by which a supplier/manufacturer declares that his goods or services meet a specified requirement. Suppliers/manufacturers base this declaration on their confidence in their production quality control system, or on the results of testing or inspection.
Technical barrier to trade (TBT) A standard or technical regulation, or a procedure to assess conformity with standards or technical regulations, becomes a technical barrier to trade if used in a way to impede international trade rather than for the purposes of achieving a legitimate objective.
Technical regulation A technical regulation, (sometimes also referred to as a “mandatory standard” or a “compulsory standard”), is a document which lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production methods, including the applicable administrative provisions with which compliance is mandated by law. Unlike voluntary standards, technical regulations are set out by governments and are obligatory.
Traceability Traceability, referring to metrological standards, is a property of the result of a measurement or value of a standard whereby it can be related to stated references, usually national or international standards, through an unbroken chain of comparisons all having stated uncertainties. Traceability is the property by which comparability and confidence of results are assured.
Trade facilitation measures Trade facilitation measures are actions undertaken with the objective of facilitating market access of traded goods and services in areas within the scope of a trade agreement. These actions can include inter alia: provisions for expediting and simplifying conformity assessment procedures, certification or accreditation of laboratories.
WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, as part of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade, while recognizing the right of countries to adopt necessary standards to achieve some level of protection of their legitimate objectives.
WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade The WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, created in the WTO TBT Agreement, has as its objective to allow member countries to periodically consult on any matters relating to the operation of the WTO TBT Agreement or the furtherance of its objectives.