Where technical regulations are required and relevant international standards exist or their completion is imminent, the World Trade Organization Treaty on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTOTBT) requires that Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them, as a basis for their technical regulations except where such international standards or relevant parts would be an ineffective or inappropriate.
Development of national standards may be required where certain geographic and regulatory issues or climatic variability mean that international or regional standards are not applicable or need modification. The development of national standards may also be required if there are no existing or related standards.
Under the Treaty, members' regulatory flexibility is limited by the requirement that technical regulations "are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating unnecessary obstacles to trade", (Article 2.2).
The WTOTBT includes at Annex 3 The Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards. All signatories to the Code, including Standards Australia, are required to use International Standards as a basis for their national standards wherever this is effective and appropriate.