A technical barrier to trade (TBT) is any regulation, standard or procedure that could make exporting goods to another country more difficult. TBTs are often greater obstacles to exporters than tariffs (import fees).
Testing or certification procedures are examples of technical barriers to trade. For instance, a Canadian entrepreneur may have a product certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), but that certification may not be valid in other countries. This forces the company to recertify the product in the country where they wish to sell it—a potentially costly and time-consuming procedure.
The World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement aims to reduce these barriers to trade, as do most free trade agreements. The goal in both cases is to create a more open and competitive marketplace.