The article argues that focusing only on disputes formally raised in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement system underestimates the extent of trade conflict resolution within the WTO. Both the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committees address a significant number of ‘specific trade concerns’ (STCs) that in the overwhelming majority of cases do not become formal disputes.The STCs address differences between Members concerning the conformity of national measures in the SPS and TBT areas with these agreements. It appears as if Committee work on STCs significantly helps defuse potential trade frictions concerning national policies in the covered areas.
Horn, Henrik, Petros C. Mavroidis and Erik N. Wijkström (2013),
"In the Shadow of the DSU: Addressing Specific Trade Concerns in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees".
Journal of World Trade