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Non-tariff Measures To Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries

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This study provides an analysis of the utilization, methods of quantification and impacts of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs), and illustrates some aspects of NTMs and the policy responses Governments and the international community might deploy to address some of the complexities arising from their use.

Economic and Policy Issues
for Developing Countries


New York and Geneva, 2013

Economic and Policy Issues
for Developing Countries




The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the United Nations Secretariat. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication
do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations Secretariat concerning
the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its
frontiers or boundaries. This publication falls under the Developing Countries in International Trade Studies series.

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Material in this publication may be freely quoted or reprinted, but full acknowledgement is requested.
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ISSN 1817-1214

Copyright © United Nations 2013
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Non-Tariff Measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries iii


Due to the proliferation of various non-tariff rules and regulations affecting international
trade, trade policy is becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted. Understanding the uses and
implications of these trade policy instruments is essential for the formulation and implementation
of effective development strategies. This is particularly important for developing countries, as
their market access depends to a great extent on compliance with trade regulatory measures
that are beyond the scope of traditional tariffs and existing preferential schemes. Restrictive
and distortionary effects of non-tariff measures may be systematically biased, although in many
cases unintentionally, against developing countries and more so against low-income and least
developed countries. Non-tariff measures are also becoming a key topic of negotiations not only
in North-South, but also in South-South contexts. Therefore, it is crucial for developing countries
to be fully aware of the effects of non-tariff measures, in regard to both market access and import
competition. Unfortunately, the impacts of non-tariff measures on international trade, or more
generally on social welfare, are not always well understood. In fact, the analysis related to non-
tariff measures has not kept pace with their increasing complexity, resulting in a knowledge gap.

This publication by the UNCTAD secretariat is an effort to improve existing knowledge
on relevant issues related to non-tariff measures, with particular attention to those more relevant
for developing countries. A better understanding of non-tariff measures will help policymakers to
formulate appropriate policy responses and direct the necessary technical and financial resources
to where they are needed. It will also contribute to more balanced international trade agreements
and improved multilateral dialogue on trade policy issues. I am confident that this study will assist
UNCTAD member States to strengthen their capacity to conduct more efficient trade policies for

Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD



This publication, Non-tariff measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for
Developing Countries, is a product of the Trade Analysis Branch, Division on International Trade
in Goods and Services, and Commodities (DITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD). It is part of a larger effort by UNCTAD to analyse trade-related issues
of particular importance for developing countries. Alessandro Nicita was the coordinator of
this study which was prepared with inputs from Santiago Fernandez De Cordoba Briz, Marco
Fugazza, Miho Shirotori, Victor Ognivtsev and Denise Penello Rial. This study also greatly
benefited from inputs from Olivier Cadot, Valentina Rollo and Bolormaa Tumurchudur-Klok.
Desktop publishing was done by Jenifer Tacardon-Mercado.

Guillermo Valles

Division on International Trade
in Goods and Services, and Commodities

Non-Tariff Measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries v


FOREWORD ................................................................................................................................................................ iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................................................................... iv
INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................................................... vii

I. DEFINITION AND INCIDENCE OF NON-TARIFF MEASURES .................................................................................1
A. Definition and classification........................................................................................................ 1
B. The incidence of non-tariff measures......................................................................................... 4
C. Non-tariff measures and traditional forms of trade policy ......................................................... 12
D. Importance of non-tariff measures in restricting trade .............................................................. 14

II. QUANTIFICATION OF THE EFFECTS OF NON-TARIFF MEASURES ......................................................................17
A. The basic framework ............................................................................................................... 18
B. Methodologies in the quantification of non-tariff measures....................................................... 22

A. Technical measures ................................................................................................................. 27
B. Non-technical measures ......................................................................................................... 36

IV. TRANSPARENCY IN NON-TARIFF MEASURES: REPORTING AND MONITORING ..................................................45
A. World Trade Oranization notifications....................................................................................... 46
B. Private sector surveys ............................................................................................................. 48
C. Official data collection ............................................................................................................. 50

V. REGULATORY FRAMEWORKS FOR NON-TARIFF MEASURES ............................................................................55
A. World Trade Organization disciplines on non-tariff measures: the case of technical

barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures ...................................................... 55
B. Regional and bilateral agreements disciplining non-tariff measures .......................................... 57

VI. STREAMLINING NON-TARIFF MEASURES .......................................................................................................65
A. Approaches to reform of non-tariff measures........................................................................... 65
B. Regulatory reform: lessons from recent experience ................................................................. 69
C. Streamlining of non-tariff measures: a practical, step-by-step approach .................................. 72

REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................................................79

ANNEX: CLASSIFICATION OF NON-TARIFF MEASURES ................................................................................................85


1. Use of multiple types of NTMs within single products .............................................................. 10
2. Frequency indices of five categories of NTMs across economic sectors .................................. 11
3. NTMs flagged by exporters as principal barriers to trade ......................................................... 48
4. NTM data collection (country coverage) .................................................................................. 52
5. Measures targeted for immediate removal by the East African Community .............................. 62

1. Classification of non-tariff measures (chapters) .......................................................................... 4
2. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (all countries. unweighted) ............................. 5
3. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (by region)...................................................... 6
4. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (by country) ................................................... 7
5. Correlation between frequency indices and coverage ratios ...................................................... 8
6. Number of NTMs from different chapters affecting HS six-digit products ................................... 9
7. Frequency index of broad type of NTM (1999 and 2010) ......................................................... 12
8. Coverage ratios of tariffs and NTMs ........................................................................................ 13
9. Correlation of NTM pervasiveness with tariffs (by country) ....................................................... 13
10. Correlation of NTM pervasiveness with tariffs (by product) ....................................................... 13
11. Overall level of restrictiveness imposed on imports .................................................................. 14
12. Overall level of restrictiveness faced by exports ....................................................................... 15
13. Application of a quota on imports............................................................................................ 18
14. Internalization of damage costs............................................................................................... 19
15. Application of a public standard .............................................................................................. 20
16. Multiple overlapping NTMs ...................................................................................................... 20
17. Application of a public standard and a welfare analysis ........................................................... 21
18. Number of notifying countries by type of measure................................................................... 47
19. Inspection rates reported by the private sector by country ...................................................... 49
20. Man days spent per year resolving problems with customs and tax administrations ................ 50
21. Approach to streamlining NTMs .............................................................................................. 74
22. The logical flow of an NTM review ........................................................................................... 76
23. Costs and benefits of a regulation ........................................................................................... 78

1. Brief description of the chapters in the classification of non-tariff measures ............................... 3
2. Simple regulatory impact assessment guidelines: Mexican version .......................................... 66

Non-Tariff Measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries vii


The ability to gain reliable market access depends increasingly on compliance with trade regulatory
measures that are beyond the realm of traditional trade policies. Although market access could still be improved
by further liberalization for a number of products that so far have been largely exempt, traditional trade policies
such as tariffs and quotas no longer have a significant impact on restricting market access. Tariffs on international
trade are generally low, as they have been progressively liberalized, first under the auspices of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) and subsequently in the context of
regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements. The decreasing importance of tariffs for market access also
results from special and differential treatment schemes, such as the UNCTAD generalized tariff preferences,
and the various preferential schemes granted to most needed countries. The fact that tariff liberalization alone
has generally proven unsuccessful in providing genuine market access has drawn further attention to non-tariff
measures (NTMs) as major determinants in restricting market access.

Non-tariff measures include a very diverse array of policies that countries apply to imported and exported
goods. Some NTMs are manifestly employed as instruments of commercial policy (e.g. quotas, subsidies, trade
defence measures and export restrictions), while others stem from non-trade policy objectives (e.g. technical
measures). The latter often serve a legitimate purpose as they are put in place for valid concerns such as
food safety and environmental protection. Although the underlying intent of NTMs is important for negotiations
and policy response, it is not the only issue. Regardless of whether NTMs are imposed (or implemented) with
protectionist intent or to address legitimate market failures, NTMs are thought to have important restrictive and
distortionary effects on international trade.

One problem related to NTMs is that, despite their widespread use, their effect on international trade
is still quite understudied. Reasons for the poor understanding of the implications of NTM for international
trade reside in the complexities and variations of such policy instruments and the fact that NTMs often have
diverse effects on international trade that cannot be easily generalized. Unlike tariffs, NTM data are not merely
numbers and their effect on international trade is often subtle, indirect and often very case-specific. In addition,
the difficulty in understanding the implications that NTMs have for international trade originates from paucity of
information and lack of transparency. NTM notification mechanisms are generally incomplete and the fact that
relevant information on NTMs generally originates from various regulatory agencies and is often buried in legal
and regulatory documents, makes the gathering of relevant data difficult and costly. The scarce knowledge of
the implications of NTMs for international trade is particularly troubling for policymakers, trade negotiators and
development agencies, which need information and analysis so as to direct their efforts for maximum gain.

In an analysis of the implications of NTMs for international trade, there are several areas that require
particular attention. One important area is the quantification of the costs that NTMs impose on international trade.
Given their heterogeneity in intent, scope and implementation mechanisms, NTMs impose diverse costs (and
benefits) on different actors. A better understanding of those costs and benefits would greatly contribute to both
domestic and international policymaking processes. Another area requiring attention relates to the proliferation of
NTMs. While forms of NTMs have been around for a long time,1 the use of them to regulate trade has been rising,
both in terms of countries adopting these measures and in their variety. A major concern is that the proliferation
of increasingly complex trade rules could hide protectionist intents. In this regard, an area of interest is the
identification of the possible, even unintentional, discriminatory effects of NTMs.

A key area of research is related to the implications that NTMs have for market access for developing
countries. More specifically, there are two main issues of concern. One is that, although nominally non-
discriminatory, the effect of NTMs can be discriminatory against a country’s trading partners. This de facto

1 For example, English laws in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries required that all colonial trade be conducted on
British ships manned by British sailors. Also, certain goods had to be shipped to Great Britain first before they could be sent
to their final destination.


discrimination is generally disadvantageous to developing countries for various reasons. First, developing
countries often have a more limited capability (or incur higher costs) for meeting the requirements dictated by
NTMs. This is due to a less advanced production process technology, weak trade-related infrastructure and
inadequate export services. Discrimination also results from an information problem. Many developing countries
do not have the resources to analyse and understand the nature and implications of the NTMs that their exports
face. Discrimination can also result from the more rigorous administrative procedures that are often applied
to imports originating from developing countries, especially least developed countries. Another reason why
NTMs are of particular relevance to developing countries is that they are frequently applied to product groups of
particular export interest to these countries. Products that are subject to NTMs are often those where developing
countries have a comparative advantage. All things considered, the overall restrictions on trade imposed by
NTMs may be systematically biased, although unintentionally, against developing countries and more so against
low-income and least developed countries.

This study contributes to a better understanding of the implications of NTMs for developing countries
in two regards. First, it provides an analysis of the utilization, methods of quantification and impacts of NTMs.
These issues are discussed in sections I, II and III. Secondly, the study also illustrates some aspects of NTMs and
the policy responses Governments and the international community might deploy to address some of the issues
related to NTMs. These issues are presented in sections IV, V and VI.

Section I presents an overview on the use and impact of NTMs. It illustrates the various categories of
NTMs and how these are classified and then discusses their use, incidence and how they relate to traditional
trade policies. It also presents some evidence of the impact of NTMs on international trade. In section I, several
important points are made: first, as NTMs vary greatly in type, intent and scope, it illustrates how proper
classification is of critical importance in order to better identify and distinguish the various forms of NTMs. The
second point is that the use of NTMs is quite widespread and their overall use is increasing: countries appear to
utilize an increasingly large array of NTMs to regulate their imports. Section I also highlights the fact that NTMs
disproportionally affect agricultural products and some of the manufacturing sectors that are often of export
interest to developing countries (e.g. textiles and apparel). A final argument discussed in section I relates to the
correlation and importance of NTMs relative to tariffs. The analysis shows that NTMs are often utilized to reinforce
the market restrictions imposed by tariffs. The analysis also provides evidence that NTMs are generally much
more important than tariffs in restricting market access, especially with regard to low-income countries.

Section II presents a more technical discussion of the issues related to the analysis and quantification
of the effects of NTMs. The quantification of the effects is first conceptualized in a simple supply-demand
framework and then some specific empirical methodologies are discussed. Section II shows how NTMs affect
the volume and patterns of international trade by quantitative means and/or by influencing the relative prices and
costs of production. The quantitative methodologies discussed include inventory measures, price comparison,
econometric estimation of quantity impacts and gravity equations, general equilibrium models and cost-benefit
analysis. The discussion summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of the various quantitative tools and
illustrates their appropriate use.

Section III provides a detailed review of the empirical literature on NTMs. This section is particularly
useful for understanding how the quantitative methods analysed in section II are empirically implemented to
analyse the effects of NTMs on international trade and economic welfare. The discussion in section III is not
only methodological but provides an empirical assessment of the impact of different types of NTMs. The section
focuses on a number of case studies, providing policy recommendations and quantitative analysis with regard to
several sectors, countries and types of NTMs. It is organized by type of NTM and reviews a number of studies
related to technical measures, import bans, pre-shipment inspections, rules of origin, export restrictions, State
trading enterprises, anti-dumping and tariff rate quotas. The general message of section III is that NTMs can
have quite diverse effects, depending not only on their type and scope but also on the economic framework in
which they are applied. The literature reviewed in this section also emphasizes that the effects of NTMs are largely
dependent not only on NTMs per se but also on implementation procedures and administration mechanisms.

Non-Tariff Measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries ix

Section IV discusses the importance of regulatory transparency for better assessing, and therefore
addressing, the implications of NTMs for international trade. This section illustrates the lack of transparency as
an important source of trade costs and a major and recurrent obstacle, both for policymakers negotiating trade
agreements and for businesses seeking to trade internationally. Section IV identifies a number of ways to improve
transparency and discusses the merits and shortcomings of ongoing initiatives aimed at improving the availability
of, and access to, information related to NTMs. The discussion in this section suggests that it is generally easier
to improve transparency in a multilateral or regional context because countries have more of an incentive to
disclose information on their own regulatory framework in a context of reciprocity. The most effective ways to
improve transparency are by enforcement rules on existing notification mechanisms (at WTO or at regional level)
and by global initiatives aimed at collecting and organizing data on NTMs, such as the recent Transparency in
Trade initiative launched jointly by UNCTAD, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Trade Centre
(ITC) and the World Bank.

Section V presents an overview of the existing regulatory frameworks for NTMs, especially in regard to
sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards and technical barriers to trade (TBTs). It illustrates WTO disciplines
in these areas and presents an overview of NTM disciplines within regional and bilateral agreements. Section V
highlights some of the issues related to standard harmonization and mutual recognition. One important message
is that the harmonization of technical regulations in the context of North-South agreements is not free of risks
regarding their compatibility with the broader aim of multilateral liberalization. Harmonization provisions within
North-South free trade agreements (FTAs) often contribute to market segmentation in the form of hub-and-spoke
trade patterns with the result that incentives for South-South regional integration are lessened. This suggests
that harmonization issues in North-South FTAs should be viewed by developing countries in a strategic manner.

In section VI the process of reforming and harmonizing NTMs from the government perspective is
discussed. The point is made that “efficient regulations” should be the ultimate objective of NTM reform, as an
efficient regulatory system is essential for increasing competitiveness. Section VI reviews the various approaches
for improving the nature of existing NTMs and through which new ones are introduced. In this regard, it presents
a regulatory impact assessment procedure and a practical step-by-step approach to streamlining NTMs. It also
discusses the political economy behind NTM reforms. One important message from this section is that any
implementation, reform or administration of NTMs should precisely target the market failures they are trying to
correct in order to minimize the distortion costs imposed on the economy and trade.

As a whole, this study brings two main messages to trade analysts and policymakers in regard to
NTMs. The first is that, given their importance but the still limited understanding of them, further research and
analysis are required. The second is that a multilateral policymaking process, although difficult, is critical to
minimizing their distortionary and discriminatory effects.

This section provides an overview on the use and impact of NTMs. It first illustrates the
various categories of NTMs and how are these classified. It then discusses their use,
incidence and how they relate to traditional trade policies. The analysis in this section also
provides some evidence of the impact of NTMs on international trade.

A. Definition and classification

Broadly defined, NTMs include all policy-related trade costs incurred from production to
final consumer, with the exclusion of tariffs. For practical purposes, NTMs are categorized
depending on their scope and/or design and are broadly distinguished in technical measures
(SPS measures, TBTs and pre-shipment inspections) and non-technical measures. These
are further distinguished in hard measures (e.g. price and quantity control measures), threat
measures (e.g. anti-dumping and safeguards) and other measures such as trade-related
finance and investment measures. In practice, NTMs are measures that have the potential
to substantially distort international trade, whether their trade effects are protectionist or
not. For example, measures such as quality standards, although generally imposed without
protectionist intent, may be of particular concern to poor countries whose producers are
often ill-equipped to comply with them.

The paucity of data on trade policy measures has been the main problem behind the study
of the effect of NTMs. The fact that they are increasingly used to regulate international trade
makes the need to update data even more compelling. The reason behind the scarcity of
databases on them is largely related to the difficulty of collecting the data and assembling
consistent databases. Unlike tariffs, NTM data are not merely numbers; the relevant
information is often hidden in legal and regulatory documents. Moreover, these documents
are generally not centralized but often reside in different regulatory agencies. All these
issues make the collection of NTM data a very resource-intensive task. The first attempt to
collect and categorize NTMs was conducted by UNCTAD in the late 1990s and the data
is available in the UNCTAD Trade Analysis and Information System database (TRAINS –
accessible via WITS).2 However, the TRAINS NTM database has not been consistently
updated over the last 10 years. To fill this gap and in response to the increased interest of
both researchers and policymakers, UNCTAD and the World Bank in collaboration with ITC
and AfDB, have initiated a new effort on NTM data – the Transparency in Trade initiative –
which is a multi-year joint programme, particularly focusing on the objectives of improving the

2 http://wits.worldbank.org/wits.



coverage and classification of NTMs and on updating,
consolidating and freely disseminating NTM data. As
of 2011, this joint effort has produced an updated
NTM classification as well as detailed new data for
about 30 countries. A large part of the analysis in this
section is based on this data.

The definition of NTMs encompasses all measures
altering the conditions of international trade, including
policies and regulations that restrict trade and those
that facilitate it. NTMs are often incorrectly referred to as
non-tariff barriers (NTBs). The difference is that NTMs
comprise a wider set of measures than NTBs, which
are now generally intended only as discriminatory
non-tariff measures imposed by Governments to
favour domestic over foreign suppliers. The cause
of this confusion is because in the past most NTMs
were largely in the form of quotas or voluntary export
restraints. These measures are restrictive by design
which explains why the word “barrier” was used. In
present times, policy interventions take many more
forms and therefore it is preferable to refer to them
as “measures” instead of “barriers” to underline that
the measure may not be necessarily welfare or trade
reducing.3 For practical purpose, the commonly used
definition of NTMs is as follows:

“Non-tariff measures (NTMs) are policy
measures, other than ordinary customs
tariffs, that can potentially have an economic
effect on international trade in goods,
changing quantities traded, or prices or
both”. (UNCTAD, 2010)

3 For example, NTMs such as standards and regulations
may expand trade by facilitating production and exchange of
information, reducing transaction costs, guaranteeing quality
and achieving the provision of public goods. Where trade
in some products would have been difficult without clear
standards, with them, trade could be created between two

This definition is broad and to a large extent
uninformative, as it was in the case of NTBs, which
were defined as policies that are not tariffs. To better
identify NTMs and distinguish between the various
forms of them, a detailed classification is therefore of
critical importance. To facilitate data collection and
analysis, the multitude of NTMs are often aggregated
in various groups: hard measures (e.g. price and
quantity control measures), threat measures (e.g.
anti-dumping and safeguards), SPS standards TBTs
and other categories such as export measures, trade-
related investment measures, distribution restrictions,
restrictions on post-sales services, subsidies,
measures related to intellectual property rights and
rules of origin. Each of these groups consists of
various and often very different forms of NTMs. The
UNCTAD classification takes this into account and
develops a tree/branch structure where measures
are categorized into “chapters” depending on their
scope and/or design with each comprising measures
with similar purposes.4 Then each chapter is further
differentiated into several subgroups to allow a finer
classification of the regulations affecting trade. The
NTM classification encompasses 16 chapters (A to P)
and each individual chapter is divided into groupings
with a depth of up to three levels (one, two and three
digits). Although a few chapters reach the three-digit
level of disaggregation, most of them stop at two
digits. The chapters of the NTM classification are set
out in figure 1.

All chapters reflect the requirements of the importing
country for its imports, with the exception of measures
imposed on exports (chapter P). A brief description of
the various chapters is presented in box 1.

4 The classification has greatly benefited from inputs
from the World Bank, ITC, Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development (OECD) and WTO.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 3

Chapter A on sanitary and phytosanitary measures refers to measures affecting areas such as restriction for
substances and measures for preventing dissemination of disease. It also includes all conformity
assessment measures related to food safety, such as certification, testing and inspection and

Chapter B on technical measures refers to measures such as labelling and other measures protecting the
environment, standards on technical specifications and quality requirements.

Chapter C classifies the measures related to pre-shipment inspections and other customs formalities.

Chapter D groups contingent measures implemented to counteract particular adverse effects of imports in
the market of the importing country, including measures aimed at “unfair” foreign trade practices,
contingent upon the fulfilment of certain procedural and substantive requirements.

Chapter E on licensing, quotas and other quantity control measures groups the measures that are intended
to limit the quantity traded, such as quotas. It also covers licences and import prohibitions that
are not SPS- or TBT-related.

Chapter F groups price control measures implemented to control or affect the prices of imported goods
in order to, inter alia, support the domestic price of certain products when the import prices
of these goods are lower; establish the domestic price of certain products because of price
fluctuation in domestic markets, or price instability in a foreign market; or to increase or preserve
tax revenue. This category also includes measures, other than tariff measures, that increase the
cost of imports in a similar manner (para-tariff measures).

Chapter G on finance measures refers to measures restricting the payments of imports, for example when the
access and cost of foreign exchange is regulated. It also includes measures imposing restrictions
on the terms of payment.

Chapter H refers to measures affecting competition. These measures grant exclusive or special preferences or
privileges to one or more limited groups of economic operators. They refer mainly to monopolistic
measures, such as State trading, sole importing agencies, or compulsory national insurance or

Chapter I on trade related investment measures groups the measures that restrict investment by requiring
local content, or requesting that investment should be related to exports in order to balance

Chapter J on distribution restrictions refers to restrictive measures related to the internal distribution of
imported products.

Chapter K refers to the restriction on post-sales services, for example, restrictions on the provision of
accessory services.

Chapter L contains measures that relate to the subsidies that affect trade.

Chapter M on government procurement restriction measures refers to the restrictions bidders may find when
trying to sell their products to a foreign Government.

Chapter N groups restrictions related to intellectual property measures and intellectual property rights.

Chapter O on rules of origin groups the measures that restrict the origin of products, or their inputs.

Chapter P on export measures groups the measures a country applies to its exports. It includes export
taxes, export quotas or export prohibitions, etc.

Box 1. Brief description of the chapters in the classification of non-tariff measures


percentage of trade subject to NTMs for the importing
country and provides a measure of the importance of
NTMs on overall imports.

Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of NTMs across five
main chapters. For each chapter both the frequency
indices and coverage ratios are reported. These
statistics are simple averages across countries and
thus have to be interpreted as representative of the
use of NTMs for the average country, not for world
trade as a whole.

According to the newly collected data, TBTs are by
far the most commonly used regulatory measures,
with the average country imposing them on about
30 per cent of products and trade. Countries impose
SPS measures on average on about 15 per cent of
trade. The high incidence of SPS measures and
TBTs raises concerns for the exports of developing
countries. These measures impose quality and safety

B. The incidence of non-tariff

There are various approaches for identifying the
importance of NTMs and assessing their effects on
international trade. Methodologies include simple
inventory measures, computation of price gaps and
the estimation of ad valorem equivalents. The simpler
approach is based on two indices: the frequency index
and the coverage ratio. The frequency index accounts
only for the presence or absence of an NTM and
summarizes the percentage of products to which one
or more NTMs are applied. The coverage ratio is the

5 In this section the analysis is based on the newly collected
NTM data from 30 developing countries plus the European
Union and Japan. The data follows the Harmonized System
(HS) classification at the six-digit level covering more than
5,000 different products.

Figure 1. Classification of non-tariff measures (chapters)

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.




























I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 5

average country imposes quantity controls on about
18 per cent of products and 23 per cent of trade. Only
a small percentage of these measures still take the
form of quotas and export restrictions, since most of
these quantitative restrictions are illegal under WTO
rules. Some of them, such as quotas, prohibitions and
export restraints are in place, but are largely limited to
a number of sensitive products; in other cases, they
take the form of non-automatic licensing used as a tool
to administer the importation of goods where SPS-
and TBT-related issues are of particular importance.

The incidence of different forms of NTMs varies across
geographic areas. Figure 3 illustrates the use of NTMs
by grouping the countries in the sample into three
broad developing regions and a high-income group.
Although SPS measures and TBTs are the most used
forms of NTMs regardless of the region, many countries
especially in Asia and Latin America still implement
a large number of quantitative restrictions (largely in
the form of licensing). African countries appear to
regulate their imports relatively more than many other
developing countries, especially in relation to PSIs.
The reason behind this relatively large number of PSIs
is that they are often implemented to fight corruption,
to facilitate and accelerate custom procedures and
ultimately to help in the correct evaluation of imports

standards which often exceed multilaterally accepted
norms. Although these measures are not protectionist
in nature, they often result in diverting trade from
developing countries, where the production process
and certification bodies are frequently inadequate.
Moreover, the cost of compliance is often higher in low-
income countries as infrastructure and export services
are more expensive or need to be outsourced abroad.
In practice, SPS measures and TBTs may erode the
competitive advantage that developing countries have
in terms of labour costs and preferential access.

Among non-technical measures, pre-shipment
inspections affect, on average, almost 20 per cent
of trade and products. Although pre-shipment
inspections (PSIs) are often necessary to provide
some assurance on the quality/quantity of the
shipment and thus may promote international trade,
they add to the cost of trading. These additional costs
may reduce the competitiveness of countries, thus
distorting trade. Price control measures (8 per cent
of trade and only 5 per cent of products) constitute
one of the least used forms of NTMs. They affect
only a small share of goods and are largely related
to anti-dumping and countervailing duties, as well
as some form of administrative pricing for staple
foods, energy and other sensitive sectors. Finally, the

0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35

Quantity control

Price control




Frequency index Coverage ratio

Figure 2. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (all countries, unweighted)

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.


and their proper taxation. The heavy use of SPS
measures and TBTs by African countries may result
from an effort to harmonize regulations with their main
trading partner, the European Union.

The use of NTMs varies considerably, not only across
regions but more so between countries. Figure 4
summarizes the data in terms of a frequency index
and the coverage ratio for each country for all NTMs
as a whole. On average, countries apply some form of
NTM for slightly less than half of about 5,000 products
included in the HS six-digit classification. This figure
varies greatly by country. For example, within Africa,
the United Republic of Tanzania and Senegal use
NTMs substantially less than Egypt, Kenya or Uganda.
In Latin America, use of NTMs by Argentina is double
that of Chile or Paraguay. In Asia, Bangladesh, the
Syrian Arab Republic and the Philippines, utilize NTMs
much more than Cambodia or Indonesia. Although
this large variance may be due to some extent to
different primary data collection methods, this is likely
to explain only part of the differenc, as a large variance
is also found for Latin American countries whose data
is collected by the same agency: the Associación
Latinoamericana de Integración (ALADI).

An important issue relates to the difference between
frequency indices and coverage ratios. In general,
these two measures follow similar trends; however
coverage ratios are often higher than frequency
indices. Figure 5 illustrates the correlation between
the two measures. Most countries lie behind the 45
per cent line indicating that NTMs are used relatively
more in products that are most traded. This suggests
that, in general, NTMs are imposed for regulatory
purposes (e.g. for consumer protection) rather than as
a protectionist tool. Higher coverage ratios may also
be partly explained by import composition, at least for
low-income countries. These countries often import
relatively large volumes of agricultural products, which
are generally more subject to import regulations.

The incidence of the use of NTMs depends on both the
percentage of products (or imports) affected by NTMs
and the number of NTMs affecting each product.
Frequency and coverage ratios illustrated above do
not take into account whether more than one type
of NTM is applied to the same product. In practice,
a large number of products have more than one
regulatory measure applied to them. For example, a
product could be subject to a sanitary standard as well

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7

Price control

Quantity control




Price control

Quantity control




Price control

Quantity control




Price control

Quantity control













Frequency index Coverage ratio

Figure 3. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (by region)

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 7

as a technical measure on quality and finally to some
licensing. Arguably, the greater the number of NTMs
applied to the same product, the more regulated the
commerce of that product is, especially if measures
are from different chapters of the classification. The
rationale is that measures within the same chapter

are similar in nature and thus often impose a relatively
lower burden than measures from different chapters.
To better illustrate the pervasiveness of NTMs, figure
6 reports the number of NTMs from different chapters
affecting each HS six-digit product.

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1


European Union









Bolivia, Plurinational State of


Syrian Arab Republic



Lao People's Democratic Republic




United Republic of Tanzania



South Africa




























Frequency index Coverage ratio

Figure 4. Frequency index and coverage ratios by chapter (by country)

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.


Although a large share of products affected by
NTMs are subject to NTMs from only one chapter,
a substantial number of products are affected by
multiple different types of NTMs. For example, among
about 4,500 products on which the European Union
imposes NTMs, about 3,200 are subject to NTMs from
only one chapter, about 1,100 are affected by NTMs
from two different chapters and about 250 by NTMs
from three or more chapters. Although the European
Union frequency index and coverage ratio are similar
to that of Argentina, European Union imports can be
considered relatively less regulated, as the majority
of imports from Argentina are affected by NTMs from
two or more chapters.

It is often the case that countries apply a large
number of NTMs within each chapter. For example,
one specific good may be subject to geographical
restriction, labelling, fumigation and some conformity
assessments, which all fall under the SPS chapter
(A). Although some of these measures may impose
few additional costs, some others are quite distinct.
A large number of measures within a chapter could
imply an even stricter regulatory framework. Thus, it is
important to provide some information on the actual
number of NTMs applied to single products. This
information is given by simply calculating the average

number of NTMs applied to each HS six-digit product.
Table 1 reports for each country the average number
of NTMs applied to the products facing at least one
NTM at the various levels of aggregation of NTM

With very few exceptions, products are rarely affected
by only one type of NTM, because several regulatory
measures are often applied in parallel. The average
number of NTMs affecting products facing at least one
NTM is 1.82 at the chapter level, 2.77 at the one-digit
level and 3.61 when all possible NTMs are considered.6

These figures vary considerably across countries. For
example, while Mauritius imposes about one NTM
measure at the one-digit and chapter level for each
of its 2,354 HS six-digit products covered by NTMs,
Japan imposes an average of almost five one-digit
categories of NTMs, mainly from the same chapter, on
its 2,131 HS six-digit products subject to NTMs. This
suggests that Japan, although imposing NTMs on a
similar number of products as Mauritius, regulates its
imports substantially more. Similarly, Tunisian import
restrictions are applied on 1,244 products. These
products face an average of 3 NTMs from different
chapters and an average of 11 distinct types of NTMs.

6 These are averages only for products affected by at least
one type of NTM.




Plurinational State of Bolivia





European Union















United Republic of Tanzania



South Africa












0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1
Coverage ratio

Figure 5. Correlation between frequency indices and coverage ratios

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 9

On the other hand, although Egypt applies at least
one NTM for most of the HS six-digit lines, only about
an average of two NTMs are applied for each line.
Although these statistics provide valuable information,
such large differences at the most disaggregated
level should not be considered as definitive proof
of overregulated import regimes. These differences
could also be due to data availability and collection
procedures. In particular, differences may be related
to whether the document setting out the regulation is
detailed enough to distinguish between several types
of similar NTMs, in which case NTMs are generally
classified only under broader codes. Differences at the
one-digit level often reflect more real differences in the
use of regulatory measures for imports and thus can
provide a better assessment of the regulatory regime.
For example, both Mexico and Brazil impose some

form of NTM for about 3,000 products. However,
while Mexico applies only 1.5 one-digit NTM on each
of these products, Brazil applies about three NTMs.
Arguably, Brazilian imports can be considered on
average more regulated than those of Mexico.

The use of NTMs varies greatly across economic
sectors, both for technical and economic reasons.
While some products, such as agriculture, footwear,
wood and motor vehicles, are highly regulated
because of consumer and environmental protection
and technical standards, some other goods, such as
minerals, are by their nature relatively less subject to
laws and regulation. Table 2 reports frequency indices
of five broad categories of NTMs for 20 economic








































































, Pa,






























Africa Asia Latin America High-income






1 type 2 types 3 types 4 types

Figure 6. Number of NTMs from different chapters affecting HS six-digit products

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.


Table 1. Use of multiple types of NTMs within single products

Country name

Number of products
where at least one

NTM is applied

Average over number of NTMs for each product


one-digit level

All types of NTMs
(three digits)

Argentina 4 035 2.47 3.00 3.16

Bangladesh 3 476 1.71 1.85 1.94

Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 1 408 1.75 1.91 1.99

Brazil 2 808 2.25 3.07 3.15

Burundi 5 040 2.47 5.34 7.17

Cambodia 1 687 1.14 1.46 1.86

Chile 2 224 1.68 1.83 1.87

Colombia 2 962 2.46 2.99 3.12

Ecuador 1 935 1.68 2.21 2.27

Egypt 5 014 1.72 2.09 2.34

European Union 4 550 1.36 3.80 5.18

Indonesia 2 353 1.65 2.05 2.84

Japan 2 132 1.37 4.88 8.39

Kenya 4 491 2.55 5.74 9.02

Lao People’s Democratic Republic 4 100 1.63 2.58 3.68

Lebanon 829 1.04 1.29 1.46

Madagascar 1 673 1.35 1.63 1.64

Mauritius 2 354 1.08 1.08 1.45

Mexico 3 105 1.49 1.59 1.64

Morocco 1 417 1.77 3.11 4.13

Namibia 2 857 4.14 9.02 9.41

Paraguay 1 399 1.41 1.69 1.70

Peru 2 427 1.43 1.71 1.93

Philippines 4 934 1.17 1.22 1.27

Senegal 388 1.83 2.09 2.76

South Africa 2 233 1.30 1.93 2.04

Syrian Arab Republic 4 803 1.75 2.07 2.40

Tunisia 1 244 2.95 6.00 11.38

Uganda 5 062 3.08 3.12 4.09

United Republic of Tanzania 288 1.33 1.73 1.83

Uruguay 2 261 1.47 1.75 1.85

Average (simple) 2 758 1.82 2.77 3.61

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 11

The use of SPS measures is largely limited to
agricultural sectors and products of animal origin, as
their control is essential for ensuring the health and
well-being of consumers and the protection of the
environment. As a result, more than 60 per cent of
food-related products are found to be affected by at
least one form of SPS measure. TBTs on the other
hand can be applied to a much wider set of products
and indeed are found to be more uniformly applied
across economic sectors with peaks in textiles,
footwear, processed food and chemicals. Measures
involving pre-shipment requirements are widely
distributed across economic sectors but affect a
smaller number of products. Pre-shipment inspections
are found to be more relevant for agricultural products,
wooden products, textiles and footwear. Price-control
measures such as administrative pricing, anti-dumping
and countervailing duties are trade-defensive policies
that by their nature are applied only to very specific
products and thus result in low frequency indices. Like
pre-shipment requirements, price control measures
are more concentrated in agricultural products, textiles
and footwear. Finally, quantity control measures are
applied more or less uniformly across economic
sectors with peaks in agricultural goods, particularly
animal products, motor vehicles and chemical

products. These are sectors where particularly
sensitive products are often regulated by non-
automatic licences, quotas and sometimes outright
prohibitions. The distribution of NTMs across sectors,
especially with regard to SPS measures and TBTs,
is due more to the technical properties of products
than to economic policy and therefore does not vary
substantially across countries. Other measures have a
more heterogeneous distribution as the choice among
different measures for the regulatory intent may be
different across countries, depending on various
factors such as institutional capacity, implementation
costs and efficiency.

One important issue related to NTMs is their
proliferation. Although there is no sufficient time
series data to exactly calculate the increase in the
use of NTMs, there appears to be a consensus that
the use of regulatory measures has greatly increased
in the last 10 years. The change in the use of NTMs
between 1999 and 2010, based on the available data,
is reported in figure 7. As a caveat, this figure is based
on only a few comparable NTM data across time, most
of which originate from Latin American countries. For
most other countries, the collection procedures may
have substantially changed and thus the earlier data

Table 2. Frequency indices of five categories of NTMs across economic sectors

Sector A: SPS B: TBT C: Pre-shipment
D: Price

E: Quantity

Live animals 71.3 36.2 21.3 5.7 33.4

Vegetable products 69.2 31.7 24.0 3.6 27.1

Fats and oil 51.1 26.8 12.9 8.0 20.7

Processed food 57.0 41.7 17.7 3.6 20.3

Mineral products 9.8 25.5 8.1 0.6 10.9

Chemical products 11.3 35.8 6.8 1.7 19.6

Rubber and plastics 1.2 24.1 5.7 0.8 6.3

Raw hide and skins 12.8 23.7 9.9 0.0 12.9

Wood 26.2 30.2 12.4 0.8 15.2

Paper 1.7 18.4 8.2 0.6 11.4

Textile 1.8 34.3 15.6 4.7 16.3

Footwear 0.7 38.8 16.7 3.3 17.9

Stone and cement 3.1 19.0 9.7 1.1 6.3

Base metals 1.6 21.0 9.6 1.2 12.2

Machinery and electrical equipment 1.1 20.8 8.2 0.8 13.1

Motor vehicles 0.3 26.2 8.4 0.7 22.5

Optical and medical instruments 0.4 20.0 7.9 0.2 8.1

Miscellaneous goods 1.6 23.0 7.2 4.1 7.2

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.


may not have been as complete as the data recently
collected.7 Figure 7 shows that with the exception
of quantity control measures, the use of NTMs has
increased. In particular, in the categories where the
number of products covered by NTMs has increased,
most relate to technical measures (SPS measures
and TBTs). As of 2010, about half the products in our
sample of countries are affected by one or more types
of SPS measure and/or TBT. Price control measures
were barely used, while the use of quantity control
measures has declined, possibly caused by the
progressive tariffication of quotas. Finally, the use of
other types of NTMs, such as pre-shipment inspection
and trade defence (or contingency protection)
measures, appears to have substantially increased.

C. Non-tariff measures and traditional
forms of trade policy

The use of multiple instruments of trade policy to
regulate imports involves not only NTMs but also
traditional forms of trade policy. This section explores

7 As there is a 1999 data limitation, figure 7 aggregates SPS
measures and TBTs under the technical measures category.

whether NTMs are used as complements to, or
substitutes for, traditional trade policy, namely tariffs.
The relationship between NTMs and tariffs can be
assessed across countries or across products. In
relation to countries, the analysis investigates whether
countries applying restrictive traditional trade policies
(high tariffs) are also those where NTMs are more
frequently used so as to better protect their domestic
industry from foreign competitors. If this is the case,
it would result in a positive relationship between the
use of NTMs and the level of tariffs, as products may
be protected not only by a large number of NTMs but
also by high tariffs. Although a large number of NTMs
may result from the nature of the product, when these
are accompanied by a high tariff it may indicate the
intent to use NTMs to complement tariffs to further
insulate domestic industries from foreign competition.

The relationship between NTMs and tariffs across
countries is illustrated in figure 8 where NTMs are
defined by their coverage ratio.

Although figure 8 shows a high degree of dispersion, it
also shows a clear positive correlation between tariffs
and NTMs. The countries which apply more restrictive
traditional trade policies are also those where imports
are more affected by NTMs.








Technical measures Price control Quantity control

1999 2010

Other measures





Figure 7. Frequency index by broad type of NTM (1999 and 2010)

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 13

Figure 8. Coverage ratios of tariffs and NTMs



Plurinational State of Bolivia







European Union



Kenya Lao PDR







South Africa

Syrian Arab Republic

United Republic of Tanzania












0 5 10 15
Tariff - import weighted

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

Similar conclusions are drawn by the correlation of
tariffs and the number of products affected by NTMs.
Figure 9 shows the correlation between the average
number of NTMs at the chapter level and the tariff. The
figure shows a stronger positive relationship indicating
that countries where tariffs are higher also apply a
larger number of NTMs per product.

Figure 9. Correlation of NTM pervasiveness with tariffs
(by country)


Plurinational State of Bolivia






Ecuador Egypt

European Union













South Africa

Syrian Arab Rep.

United Republic of Tanzania










e n

r o

f N

s p







e n

r o

f N

s p






0 5 10 15
Tariff - import weighted

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

Taken together, these results indicate that a
protectionist tariff policy is often paired with more
regulated NTM regimes. To better explore whether
NTMs are used in addition to tariffs to protect specific
sectors, one needs to assess their relationship at the
product level. Figure 10 illustrates the relationship
between NTMs and tariffs across economic sectors.
In this case the correlation is also positive, suggesting
that most regulated economic sectors are also those
where tariffs are higher.

Figure 10. Correlation of NTM pervasiveness with tariffs
(by product)

Live animals

Vegetable products

Fats and oil
Processed food

Minerals products
Chemical products

Rubber and plastics

Raw hide and skins




Stone and cement
Base metals

Machinery &
elect. equip.

Motor vehicles

Optical and medical instrumentsMiscellaneous goods





e n

r o

f N

s (




e n

r o

f N

s (



0 5 10 15 20
Tariff - import weighted

Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

More generally, the analysis above suggests the
presence of a correlation between the use of NTMs
and traditional forms of trade policy. Countries that
apply higher most favoured nation tariffs are also those
that have a larger number of products and a larger
extent of imports affected by NTMs. This may indicate
that NTMs have been used, at least to some degree,
to reinforce tariffs in order to continue protecting key
economic sectors in spite of tariff liberalization taking


D. Importance of non-tariff measures
in restricting trade

The importance of NTMs is due not only to their
incidence but also to their actual impact on
international trade. The measurement of the effect
of NTMs on trade is a complex task which requires
specific quantitative tools and availability of data.
Section II discusses in more detail some of the
technical issues related to the quantification of NTMs.
Section III presents some empirical studies quantifying
the importance of different types of NTMs and reports
on some indicators of the restrictiveness of NTMs
so as to illustrate the overall importance of NTMs in
international trade.

Some of the most widely used indicators to measure
the effect of NTMs on trade are those developed by
Kee, Nicita and Olarreaga (2009) and implemented
by the World Bank in its global monitoring reports.
The indicators referred to are the overall trade
restrictiveness index (OTRI) and market access OTRI
(MA-OTRI). These indicators provide the overall level
of restrictiveness of the trade policies imposed (OTRI)
or faced (MA-OTRI) by a country and are based on the
estimation of ad valorem equivalents of NTMs. Trade
policies specifically treated by these indicators are ad
valorem tariffs, specific duties and some NTMs, such
as price control measures, quantitative restrictions,
anti-competitive measures and technical regulations.
Other measures, such as rules of origin and export-
related measures, are not included. Although these
indicators cannot disentangle the impact of each
specific type of NTM, they can separate the effect
on overall restrictiveness due to traditional trade
policies (tariffs and specific duties) from that caused
by NTMs. It is also important to note that because
many NTMs are not protectionist in intent (or effect),
these indicators reflect net restrictiveness; they are not
measures of the level of protection that Governments
seek for a domestic industry. A drawback of those
indicators is that their NTM component is based on
obsolete data collected more than 10 years ago.8

Since the use of NTMs has increased in the last 10
years, these indicators probably underrepresent the
actual impact of NTMs on trade. On the other hand, in
the statistics presented below, tariff data is updated to
2010 using the UNCTAD TRAINS database.

8 The development and use of these indicators provided
an additional incentive for the new data collection effort
presented in section IV.

Figure 11 reports the OTRI for high-, middle- and
low-income countries. The contribution to overall
restrictiveness of traditional trade policies and non-
tariff measures is reported for every bar. Figure 11 also
distinguishes between the broad economic sectors of
agriculture and manufacturing.

Figure 11. Overall level of restrictiveness imposed on
imports (OTRI)









Total Ag. Mfg. Total Ag. Mfg. Total Ag. Mfg.

High-income Middle-income Low-income

Tariff Non-tariff




Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

According to this indicator, NTMs greatly contribute
to restricting international trade. Their contribution
to overall trade restrictiveness is generally much
higher than that of tariffs. In the case of high-income
countries, NTMs adds about 4 percentage points to
the average tariff of about 2 per cent. In general, NTMs
are relatively more restrictive in high- and middle-
income countries than in low-income countries. This
is partly due to the fact that the trade policies of low-
income countries still largely rely on tariff restrictions,
as NTM administration is more costly and complex.

Large differences in the restrictiveness of NTMs are
observed between agricultural and manufacturing
products, with NTMs substantially adding to the level
of restrictiveness of the agricultural sector, especially
in high- and middle-income countries. For these
countries, the effect of trade policies on the agricultural
sector is estimated to represent on average almost 30
per cent of the value, with about 20 percentage points
due to NTMs. In regard to manufacturing, the impact of
NTMs does not seem that large, especially in restricting
access to high-income markets. NTMs appear to be
more important in restricting manufacturing imports
entering middle- and low-income markets.

I. Definition and incidence of non-tariff measures 15

With regard to market access, the restrictiveness
of trade policies varies across trading partners.
This variance is due both to the discriminatory use
of trade policies (e.g. trade preferences) and to the
composition of trade (e.g. countries whose main
exports are agricultural products face more restrictive
market conditions than countries exporting mainly
manufactured goods, because agricultural market
access is generally more restrictive). Figure 12 reports
on the level of restrictiveness faced by exports.
Countries are grouped on the basis of their income.

Figure 12. Overall level of restrictiveness faced by
exports (MA-OTRI)









Total Ag. Mfg. Total Ag. Mfg. Total Ag. Mfg.

High-income Middle-income Low-income

Tariff Non-tariff






Source: UNCTAD secretariat.

Similarly to the case of imports, the overall level of
restrictiveness faced by exports is largely influenced
by NTMs. On average, the contribution of NTMs to
restricting access to markets is more than double that
of tariffs. In extreme cases, NTMs are overwhelmingly
more important than tariffs in restricting access to
markets. For instance, while the agricultural exports of
low-income countries face an average tariff of about
5 per cent, largely because of various preferential
schemes, once the effect of NTMs is taken into
account the overall level of restrictiveness is much
higher at about 27 per cent. All things considered,
NTMs account for a much larger reduction in trade
than traditional forms of trade policies such as tariffs.
They are especially restrictive for the market access
of low-income developing countries, since those
countries are exporters of agricultural products, which
are relatively much more affected by NTMs than other

The most important aspect of the analysis of NTMs is not related to their use but to
their impact. Ultimately, trade analysts and policymakers are mainly interested in better
understanding the effects that NTMs have, in particular on international trade and more
generally on welfare. The quantification of the effect of NTMs is often complex. Although
some types of NTMs have effects that are relatively easy to quantify, for large number of
NTMs the effects on international trade are often subtle, indirect and very case-specific. For
example, the effects of price control measures are relatively simple to measure, especially
anti-dumping and safeguards. Similarly, the effects of quantity control instruments have been
extensively examined in the analysis of quotas, tariff rate quotas and their administration. On
the other hand, the analysis of the effects of technical measures is more complex as they
have more diverse effects depending on their type, scope and administration mechanisms.
Similarly, finance, anti-competitive and investment measures have mainly indirect effects on
trade and their actual impact on trade is more difficult to assess.

In general terms, the analytical work on the quantification of the effects of NTMs on trade and
welfare follows two main approaches serving different purposes. Part of the analytical work
aims to investigate the overall effect of NTMs. These studies aim to inform policymakers
and analysts as to the overall restrictiveness of NTMs for a country (or group of countries)
for broad groups of NTMs. These studies can be useful in identifying countries where NTMs
are relatively more restrictive, which types of NTMs have the largest impact on trade and
which products are relatively more impacted by NTMs. Ultimately, this type of information is
relevant, as it better directs trade negotiators to the most relevant issues related to NTMs.
On the other hand, part of the analytical work focuses on very specific policies, products
and markets. This analysis often provides a case study on the effect of a specific NTM on
a single product in a single country. This type of study aims to provide detailed and more
precise effects, but the results are restricted to particular cases that cannot be generalized
or provide overall policy guidance.

Regardless of the approach, there are a number of quantitative tools that apply to the
quantification of NTMs (see Ferrantino (2006)). The empirical approaches to estimating or
calculating the effects of NTMs vary from simple inventory measures to arithmetic calculation
of price gaps and to more sophisticated quantitative tools such as partial equilibrium
econometric models and computable general equilibrium models. Case studies also apply
cost-benefit analysis to better assess the welfare implications of specific NTMs applied to
specific products.

This section illustrates some of the issues related to the quantification of the economic
effect of NTMs from a technical perspective. To do so, the quantification of the effect of
NTMs is presented in a simple supply-demand framework and then some specific empirical
methodologies are discussed. Case studies illustrating the application of these methods are
presented in section III.



A. The basic framework

Unlike tariffs, NTMs are not straightforwardly
quantifiable, not necessarily easy to model and the
information which would allow a quantitative analysis
of NTMs is often hard to collect. The approach to
measuring the price and quantity effects of NTMs is
based on the standard supply-demand diagram for
imports. Independently of the nature of the NTM in
question, this approach allows the cost/price-raising,
trade-restricting effect at the border (the “trade-
cost effect”) to be qualified and therefore allows the
quantification of the ad valorem equivalent of NTMs.

In the basic theoretical framework it is relatively easy to
illustrate how any measure could be made equivalent to
an ad valorem tariff. The most discussed equivalence
is that between a quota and a tariff. Intuitively, a
quota, like a tariff, introduces a wedge between the
price received by foreign producers facing the quota
and the price paid by domestic consumers for these
imports. This is illustrated in figure 13, which focuses
on a case where the total supply of a specific good is
of foreign origin (S=SF).

Figure 13. Application of a quota on imports

The analysis of a quota looks very similar to that for
a tariff. The quota limits the level of imports to qA’.
As a consequence the domestic price of imports rises
to pA,D’ which is above the world price pA. In the
classic case of a large country, the world price of the

imported good falls to pA’. This is as if the demand
curve becomes the dashed line labelled D’ with a kink
at qA’. It might be the case that the quota is set above
the level of free trade imports, implying that it is not
binding. In that case the quota has no effect. Otherwise,
the quota gives rise to “rents” because of the price
wedge it creates. These rents may be captured either
by the Government of the importing country if import
licences/rights are auctioned; domestic residents if
they are given import licences/rights with no financial
counterpart; or foreigners if they have the import
licences/rights with no financial counterpart. The way
the quota is administered will eventually affect welfare
analysis but not new equilibrium properties.

A similar analysis applies to NTMs such as voluntary
export restraints, variable levies on imports,
government procurement regulations, or any other
measure whose main objective is to deliberately limit
imports of a specific good through the imposition of a
wedge between the world price and the price charged
to domestic consumers.9

A complication to the above framework is that NTMs
could generate categories of economic effects which
are not prima facie a trade-cost effect (Beghin, 2006)
even though they translate into a similar impact on
traded prices and quantities. This is essentially true for
measures such as TBTs and SPSs, or any measure
with a technical regulatory content. The rationale or
political intent for this kind of measure is not necessarily
the protection of local/domestic industries. These
categories of NTMs often have other stated social
or administrative objectives designed to regulate the
domestic market. Meeting these objectives also leads
to a shift in the supply curve and/or the demand curve
(Roberts, Josling and Orden, 1999), as in the case
of classical NTMs such as quotas. The difference
resides in the fact that the change in prices due to the
measure does not generate any private or public rent.

Prices change as a consequence of variations in the
cost of production and/or changes in consumption
behaviour. More precisely, supply-shifting effects
occur when regulations are used to tackle externalities
affecting the international trade in goods, such as
preventing the sale of products hazardous for health
or creating standards to increase compatibility and
interoperability. Such regulations can specify the
production process (i.e. use of a certain technology),

9 See for instance Baldwin (1991) and Deardorff and Stern
(1997) for a detailed analysis.

II. Quantification of the effects of non-tariff measures 19

or product attributes (i.e. the maximum content of
given components) required for conformity. Demand-
shift effects are required for certain types of market
failures, for instance by making it compulsory to
provide certain information to consumers, thus
affecting their behaviour. Supply-shift effects are of
particular relevance to technical regulations and SPS
measures. Demand-shift effects can be identified for
any sort of technical regulation.

Ganslandt and Markusen (2001) explain how
standards and technical regulations can have both
trade-impeding effects by raising the costs of exporters
and similar demand-enhancing effects by certifying
quality and safety to consumers. However, in order to
illustrate the impact of NTMs such as TBTs and SPS
measures on prices and quantity traded, we adopt
the theoretical framework used in Disdier and Marette
(2010). The framework is based on a set of simplifying
assumptions but without loss of generality in its main
analytical features. The analysis focuses on a specific
goods market and excludes any general equilibrium
mechanisms. The market good in question is assumed
to be homogeneous (or quasi-homogeneous) except
for a characteristic that is potentially dangerous to
consumers. Foreign and domestic goods can both
carry this characteristic. Domestic consumers may or
may not be aware of the latter. If they are aware, they
internalize the damage in consuming that good.

Figure 14. Internalization of damage costs

Consumers internalize the possible damage related
to the dangerous characteristic of the product under
consideration (figure 14). As a consequence, and
assuming that the demand curve is linear in the cost
related to the possible damage, the demand curve
shifts to the left. The size of the shift depends on
whether the dangerous feature is in both domestic
and foreign goods or not. The demand curve moves
independently of the implementation or not of a
standard. The implementation of a standard affects
exclusively supply curves as their impact is on the
production process and thus on production costs. With
internalization, the new market equilibrium occurring in
A’ is characterized by lower consumption (qA qA’)
and lower price (pA pA’). The fall in consumption is
reflected in lower levels of both domestic production
and imports. Figure 15 represents the case where
a public standard is implemented in order to avoid
the presence of a product characteristic found to
be damaging to human health. The assumption
behind the figure is that this dangerous characteristic
is possibly carried by foreign goods only. In that
context, the implementation or reinforcement of a
standard by domestic regulators exclusively affects
imports, i.e. only foreign producers. This implies that
only the foreign supply curve is directly affected. We
further assume that consumers have internalized
the damage before the action of the regulator. The
starting equilibrium is made to coincide with the post-
internalization equilibrium illustrated in figure 14 and
corresponding to point A1’. The consequence of the
domestic standard is an increase in the equilibrium
price (pA’ pA’’) and a fall in imports and thus
domestic consumption (qA’ qA’’). The overall
impact (that is with respect to the initial equilibrium
in figure 14 characterized by the coordinates of point
A1’ ) with internalization by consumers of the damage
cost is clearly a fall in the quantity consumed but an
indefinite impact on the equilibrium price. Note that pA
stands above pA’ but its position with respect to pA’’
is not determinate a priori. In practice, the magnitude
in the change in the equilibrium price will depend on
the probability of contagion, the associated cost from
the consumer point of view and the stringency of the
standard. Standard stringency could be modelled
essentially in two ways. The most straightforward
one is by the inclusion of a parameter indicating the
proportion of output exported that eventually enters
the destination market after inspection. With a more
stringent standard this proportion is reduced. The
proportion parameter behaves as a standard supply


shift parameter. This approach has been applied to
figures 14 and 15 with the additional assumption
that no fixed/sunk costs exist. The second approach
consists in having a sunk (or fixed) cost parameter
that varies with the application and stringency of
a standard. Sunk costs are linked amongst other
elements to the costs of market entry of a firm and of
compliance with regulations. These two approaches
are not exclusive and if taken separately they both
generate comparable results at least from a qualitative
point of view. In the case of the presence of sunk/fixed
costs the supply curve is not linear any more.

Figure 15. Application of a public standard

Besides internalization of the damage, the so-called
demand-enhancing effect could also lead to a shift
in the demand curve. A public standard possibly
affects consumers’ information set and behaviour. If
the measure appears to be informative and signals
a higher quality of the permitted imports, then it may
enhance the demand for imports. As a response to
the measure, the demand curve would shift to the
right, counteracting the demand shift coming from the
internalization of damage by consumers. The demand-
enhancing effect should be considered separately
from the internalization of possible damage, although
the two could be related. Their correlation may not be
of the most intuitive. Indeed, if we allow internalization
to be imperfect, then the implementation of the
standard could raise the awareness of consumers and
as a consequence it would increase the incidence of

1. Multiple overlapping NTMs

The price effect and the quantity effect of a specific
NTM may be difficult to identify in a situation where
several NTMs are implemented for the same product.
Whether from a theoretical or an empirical point of
view, the simplest approach is to consider that the
overall impact is related to the relative strength in
trade restrictiveness of each NTM in place. That is,
there is a dominant NTM in terms of impact which
encompasses the impact of all other NTMs. This
configuration is illustrated in figure 16 which represents
the combination of a quota and some technical
regulations. Again it is assumed that the total supply
of a specific good is of foreign origin (S=SF). The quota
is assumed to be binding and its restrictiveness on
imports is such that the cost effect of the technical
regulation is absorbed by the quota price effect. In
other words, the equilibrium price increase gives
no indication as to the price effect of the technical

Figure 16. Multiple overlapping NTMs

However, there are also cases where NTM impacts
do not overlap but add to each other. For instance,
if we consider the case of a combination of any ad
valorem para-tariff measure and some technical
regulations, the aggregate price effect would be the
result of the price effect of both NTMs. Theoretically,
both measures affect the cost of exporting to the

II. Quantification of the effects of non-tariff measures 21

implementing country and thus shift the supply curve
to the left.

Generally speaking, when one of the NTMs
implemented has a quantity restriction dimension, it
is likely that multiple NTMs have a cumulative but not
additive effect.10

2. Welfare analysis

Welfare analysis in a basic single market linear
demand-supply framework, such as the one adopted
in previous sections, is straightforward. Consumer
and producer surpluses are directly reflected by areas
under and above the demand and supply curves
respectively. Dead weight losses are triangular areas
whose size depends on the relative elasticity of the
demand and supply curves. For instance, where
welfare is given by the sum of domestic consumer
surpluses and domestic and foreign producer
profits, the overall dead weight loss generated by the
introduction of a quota corresponds to the triangle
A0BC of figure 13.

When considering measures such as SPS measures
and TBTs, welfare must also account for the damage
linked to the dangerous characteristic of the product,
whether the latter is internalized or not by domestic
consumers. The internalization leads to a change
in demand which de facto affects equilibrium and
thus welfare. However, welfare is usually seen from
the point of view of a social planner implying that
the cost of damage should be included in the set of
welfare components. The overall damage cost can be
estimated by the probability of having contaminated
products times the per unit damage costs expressed
in units of the reference good. The implementation of
an SPS measure or a TBT will reduce the probability
of contamination. This is shown in figure 17, which
is a reproduction of figure 14 with a graphical
representation of the damage cost of the dangerous
characteristic. We further assume that there is no
internalization of the damage possibly caused by the
dangerous characteristic and that the latter pertains
to foreign goods only. The move from damA’ to damA’’
reflects the fall in the probability of contamination due
to the implementation of the measure. The welfare net
impact is a priori unclear, despite the existence of a

10 See Tilton (1998) for an illustration based on Korean
exports of cement to Japan.

standard dead weight triangle, as the damage cost
related to the dangerous product characteristic has
been reduced by the public standard. As long as the
“savings” in damage cost are larger than the dead
weight loss, the net welfare impact remains positive.
That is, as long as in figure 17 the qA’qA’’defg area
(reduction in the damage cost) is larger than the abc
area (dead weight loss).

Figure 17. Application of a public standard and a welfare

3. Extensions to the basic framework

There are two major shortcomings in the above
approach. First it is a partial equilibrium analysis
and second it remains essentially static. A partial
equilibrium model, such as the one underlying the
graphical analysis used here, focuses only on one part
or sector of the economy, assuming that the impact
of that sector on the rest of the economy, and vice
versa, are either non-existent or small. A general
equilibrium analysis on the contrary explicitly accounts
for all the links between sectors of an economy -
households, firms, Governments and countries. It
imposes a set of constraints on these sectors so that
expenditures do not exceed income and income, in
turn, is determined by what factors of production


B. Methodologies in the quantification
of non-tariff measures12

There are several different methodologies that can
be applied in the quantification of the effect of NTMs
on trade and welfare. The main objective in the
quantification of NTMs has been to produce estimates
of price effects and translate them into the ad valorem
equivalent (also referred to as implicit tariffs or implicit
rates of protection). These are often reported as the
percentage change in the price of the good due to
the presence of NTMs. This approach is particularly
attractive as it would synthesize in one single, easily
comparable metric the impact of an instrument with
multiple dimensions which are often interrelated.
The analysis undertaken in the previous section has
pointed to the fact that this ad valorem equivalent
does not necessarily have to be positive and even if
it is positive it does not necessarily reflect a restrictive
quantity effect. Hence, the estimation of the effect of
NTMs should provide estimates of both quantity and
price effects in order to allow for a proper qualification
and identification of the NTM impact. One additional
complication in the estimation of the effect of NTMs
(and trade policies in general) is that NTMs can be
endogenously determined. That is, products that
are imported the most may be subject to regulations
because those products are relatively more important
for consumer welfare. To correct for endogeneity,
one would need to use a two-stage procedure: first
explain the incidence of the NTMs and then estimate
the impact on trade flows.

1. Inventory measures

Besides ad valorem equivalents, the incidence and
use of NTMs can be measured by much simpler
indicators: the frequency index and the coverage
ratio. These inventory measures allow the information
on NTMs collected at a disaggregated level in simple
indicators to be summarized. The frequency index
simply captures the percentage of products that are
subject to one or more NTMs. The coverage ratio

12 We refer the reader to Deardoff and Stern (1997) and
Ferrantino (2006) for a comprehensive review and discussion
of the issue. Useful discussions are also found in Maskus
et al. (2001) on quantification of technical barriers to trade.
Beghin and Bureau (2001) discuss sanitary and phytosanitary

earn. These constraints establish a direct link between
what factors of production earn and what households
can spend. A general equilibrium approach is not
necessarily easy to put into practice as it would
require more elaborate modelling, especially if the unit
of analysis had to be the product. In addition, before
turning to considerations of general equilibrium, it is
important to make sure that those considerations
would generate important additional information. As
to the second shortcoming mentioned previously, it
can be illustrated qualitatively in our minimalist set-up.
Generally speaking, a dynamic set-up would allow the
adjustment process going from the original equilibrium
to the post-policy reform one to be identified. The best
we can do in the above set-up is comparative statics
but taking a multidimensional adjustment process
into consideration. A good illustration is given by the
demand-enhancing effect of the implementation of
a standard. Such an effect comes simultaneously or
with some lags after the public standard has been
implemented. As mentioned previously, the economic
effect is a shift in demand which will move the
demand curve to the right. For the sake of simplicity,
we assume that the two behavioural features are
orthogonal to each other. A demand-enhancing effect
can in theory be stronger in impact than the rise in
production costs, due to the fulfilment of the standard
requirements. If this is verified then the implementation
of the standard could lead to an increase in both price
and quantity at equilibrium. It would also lead to an
improvement in overall welfare, always assuming
that the implementation of the standard has reduced
the probability of damage by raising the quality of
products consumed.11 This result would hold whether
the dangerous characteristic is specific to the foreign
product or its domestic equivalent or both.

11 See Carrère and De Melo (2011) for a discussion and
further illustrations.

II. Quantification of the effects of non-tariff measures 23

can be very NTM-specific and highly disaggregated at
the product level. On the other hand, these indicators
have limitations in that they do not give any direct
information about possible impact on price and
quantities produced, consumed or traded.

2. Price comparison

A more direct measurement of the price impact of
NTMs relies on the comparison of the price of the
good before and after the application of the measure
(this is also referred to as a price wedge or price
gap). In practice, the price gaps measure the impact
of the regulatory framework that a country imposes
on a given good by comparing the domestic price of
that good with its international price. An advantage
of the price gap method is that it enables the easy
computation of ad valorem equivalents. However,
serious conceptual and data problems are likely
to arise in the estimation and interpretation of tariff
equivalents. First, it is necessary to identify the
appropriate prices to use and this is likely to be
problematic. While it is fairly easy to obtain information
on the price paid by the importers of a good (these
are assumed to be free of the price effect of NTMs),
it might become difficult to obtain the corresponding
price prevailing in the domestic market (assumed to
include the additional cost of NTMs), especially at a
fairly disaggregated level. This becomes even more
difficult if data collection has to be done for a large
set of countries. Other drawbacks are that the price
comparison implicitly assumes perfect substitution
between imported and domestic goods and the price
differential does not convey information about how the
NTM operates in practice (Beghin and Bureau, 2001).
Another factor is that the comparison is made in the
presence of the NTM distortion (and not by comparison
to a benchmark case without distortion – see Deardoff
and Stern, 1997). Related to this is the fact that often
the researcher cannot distinguish the impact of known
NTMs from other forces which contribute to price
gaps. This is particularly problematic, as there are
many factors besides NTMs that need to be controlled
for so as to isolate the price impact of NTMs.

In practice, price gaps may be calculated arithmetically
by comparing domestic prices with border prices.
Alternatively econometric methods can try to isolate
the price impact of NTMs with that coming from other
factors. Econometrically, the price gap is estimated as

captures the percentage of imports that are subject to
one or more NTMs.

The frequency index accounts only for the presence or
absence of an NTM and summarizes the percentage
of products to which one or more NTMs are applied.
In more formal terms, the frequency index of NTMs
imposed by country j is calculated as:


ª ¦¦ i iij M


where D is a dummy variable reflecting the presence
of one or more NTMs and M indicates whether there
are imports of good i (also a dummy variable). Note
that frequency indices do not reflect the relative value
of the affected products and thus cannot give any
indication of the importance of the NTMs to overall

A measure of the importance of NTMs to overall
imports is given by the coverage ratio which measures
the percentage of trade subject to NTMs for importing
country j. In formal terms the coverage ratio is given


ª ¦¦ i iij V


where D is defined as before and V is the value of
imports in product i. One drawback of the coverage
ratio, or any other weighted average, arises from the
likely endogeneity of the weights (the fact that the
level of imports may be dependent on the presence
of NTMs). This problem is best corrected by using
weights fixed at trade levels that would arise in a world
free of NTMs (and tariffs). Otherwise, the coverage
ratio would be systematically underestimated. While
one cannot get to that benchmark, it is possible to
soften the endogeneity problem (and test for the
robustness of the results) by using trade values of past

The immediate advantage of such instruments is the
relative ease with which they can be collected, in
essence not much more difficult than compiling tariff
schedules. Inventories of NTMs represent valuable
information that could, if updated on a regular
basis, help keep track of the evolution of the relative
incidence of different types of NTMs on trade flows of
goods and of the evolution of their incidence relative to
tariffs. Another obvious advantage is that information


normalized to unity so that imported quantities equal
jsm , ; tar is the tariff ; and kjC are a set of variables

that control for k factor endowments (agricultural land,
capital, labour force, GDP, etc). The effect of NTMs at
the country level is estimated by the interaction term
between the NTM dummy (for the presence of a NTM)
and the vector of factor endowments of the country

jC . This model produces quantity effects of NTMs

that need to be translated into ad valorem equivalents
using import demand elasticities. Once ad valorem
equivalents of each NTM are computed, then it is also
possible to aggregate them so as to obtain indices of
the overall level of protection at country level.

4. Gravity models

The gravity model of trade is often used to estimate the
value impact of NTMs. Gravity models are estimated
both on cross-section and panel data. Cross-section
models have the advantage of a much lower data
requirement and an easier calculation of the price
and quantity effects of NTMs. Panel data models (or
repeated cross sections) allow for a better identification
strategy of the effect of the implementation of NTMs.
In practice, if the data allows, a panel structure is
preferable even if it may complicate the empirical
decomposition of variations in value into price and
quantity variations.

The standard gravity estimation can be implemented at
various degrees of aggregation. Normally the analysis
is conducted at the product level (e.g. HS six-digit
classification) or at the industry level (e.g. international
standard industrial classification). The estimation
is often restricted to a group of countries for which
detailed data is available. The general specification of
the gravity model is as follows:






Where tsijm , is the import value of good s in country j
from country i at time t and tar is the bilateral tariff, NTM
is a set of NTM implementation-related indicators, z is
the typical set of bilateral gravity variables and the fe
variables refer to sector, exporting country, importing
country and time fixed effects. The NTM set could
reduce to the standard dichotomous indicator of the
existence of an NTM, possibly capturing its trade

a residual or dummy-variable estimate, representing
the difference between an actual price and the
price one would expect in a given market, given
systematic differences in other factors such as non-
traded goods prices. The econometric specification
attempts to explain the observed price gaps due to
NTMs, given observed differences in local markups,
transport costs and differences in tariffs, plus some
random, unexplained factors (see Dean et al., 2009).
The estimates of the gap are only as good as the
econometric specification. While they may provide
general estimates of the price anomalies associated
with NTMs, readers familiar with specific cases and
markets will often find individual product-by-country
estimates to be unrealistic.

3. Quantity impact

Quantity impact calculations can also provide precise
information about the effect of NTMs on trade.
However, similarly to the price comparison approach,
it may be challenging to obtain appropriate data to
compute the exact impact. An advantage of quantity-
based indicators is that a general approach to the
measurement of the quantity effects of NTMs can be
undertaken, leading to the possibility of systematic and
repeated estimation. Such an approach could ideally
(with a sufficiently large dataset) include all categories
of NTMs and thus isolate the individual impact of each.
Quantity estimates associated with information about
import demand elasticities can then be used to derive
price effect estimates and thus the computation of ad
valorem estimates. This is the methodology followed
in Kee, Nicita and Olarreaga (2009).13 Empirically, the
estimating equation is simply given by:











where jsm , is the is the import value of good s in country
j evaluated at exogenous world prices, which are all

13 The theoretical foundation for this kind of study is the
n-good n-factor general equilibrium model with log-linear
utilities and log-linear constant returns to scale technologies
(see Leamer, 1988 and 1990). This model allows for both
tariffs and NTMs to deter trade with effects that vary by
importing country and good.

II. Quantification of the effects of non-tariff measures 25

quantity impact of NTMs. This information has to be
computed externally and then included in the model.
In this regard, CGE models by Andriamananjara et al.
(2004) offer to date the most comprehensive study of
the impact of NTMs in a CGE model. They include 14
product groups and 18 regions. This work first makes
global ad valorem estimates for NTMs, using price data
from Euromonitor and NTM coverage information from
UNCTAD. They then use their ad valorem estimates to
simulate in GTAP the welfare effects of a removal of
the selected NTMs. Similarly, Chemingui and Dessus
(2008) assess the impact of NTMs in the Syrian Arab
Republic within a CGE framework. They introduce
estimates of the price effects of NTMs as regular
tariffs. Ad valorem estimates of NTMs are obtained in
their study using the price comparison approach.

With the surging interest in trade facilitation
programmes affecting trade costs, several studies
have attempted to capture the potential impact of
trade facilitation in lowering NTMs. Hertel et al. (2001)
introduce an efficiency shock variable in GTAP to
simulate the impact of lower non-tariff trade costs,
such as customs clearance costs in the free trade
agreement between Japan and Singapore. Fox et
al. (2003) account for the different nature of costs
created by NTMs by modelling both the direct costs
and the indirect transaction costs of trade facilitation
at the United States-Mexico border. Direct transaction
costs are modelled as a usual import tax, reflecting
a transfer of rent between importers and domestic
agents, while indirect transaction costs are modelled
as pure efficiency losses. Walkenhorst and Yasui
(2005) follow the same approach to estimate the gains
to be expected from trade facilitation liberalization,
additionally splitting the taxes between those borne by
importers and those borne by exporters. Francois et
al. (2005) assess the impact of trade facilitation reform
related to the WTO Doha round of negotiations. They
adopt the trade efficiency cost approach to simulate
the impact of improvements in trade logistics. This
brief review of existing applied work reveals that CGE
models predict important income-welfare effects from
NTMs. These are likely to substantially vary across
countries and products, but also with the specific
functional form chosen to model them in simulation
exercises. In particular, efficiency-type effects tend to
weigh heavily in the overall welfare effects.

cost effect. However, it could also include variables
allowing for the identification and estimation of the
demand-enhancing impact discussed above.

5. Computable general equilibrium models

Thanks to advances in computer and simulation
technology, such as the global trade analysis
project (GTAP) (Hertel, 1997) and efforts to improve
data collection and availability, computable general
equilibrium (CGE) simulations on the effect of
traditional trade policies (tariff reductions) can now
routinely be carried out. Although CGE models have
been extensively used to assess the impact of WTO
negotiations on tariffs, these pre-packaged models
are not generally suited to the analysis of NTMs. In
practice, these CGE models require the quantification
of NTMs into the ad valorem equivalent. In this regard,
Fugazza and Maur (2008) offer a global and detailed
assessment of NTMs in a CGE model (the standard
GTAP model) using recent econometric estimates of
ad valorem equivalents of NTMs. Within a CGE model,
the protection effects are usually assessed at the
border. These border effects generate a wedge, either
between the world price and the domestic price in the
importing country or between the world price and the
domestic price in the exporting country. One problem
is that protection effects also arise beyond (within) the
border because NTMs do not necessarily discriminate
between domestic and imported goods. Tackling
these effects that arise beyond the border would
require models including increasing returns to scale
and export-specific costs. In addition, the assessment
of the other economic effects in a CGE context is
much more complex. Although it would be desirable
to investigate how one can identify and separate the
cost and the welfare-enhancing dimension of NTMs, it
is difficult to think of a methodology that would allow
this to be carried out in a systematic way. Detailed
information is needed; it would have to be provided
by technical experts (Deardoff and Stern, 1997) and
probably only for specific products or a limited range
of countries. All in all, standard CGE models do not
offer a fully satisfactory way to include demand-shift
and supply-shift effects, which are necessary to
quantify the effects of NTMs.

In practice, CGE models are useful in providing the
level of protection of NTMs in a general equilibrium
framework, but cannot really assess the price or


also those of not having NTMs in place. Ultimately, this
methodology contributes to a more comprehensive
welfare analysis of NTMs than that offered by looking
at trade effects alone. In the cost-benefit framework,
the costs of the measures are generally imputed on
the basis of the “willingness to pay” methods. That
is the value (or cost) that consumers and producers
impute to removing (or implementing) the measure.
For example, the value that consumers give to avoid
an undesired product characteristic is a key variable in
the cost-benefit assessment. Clearly, the validity of the
cost-benefit analysis depends on the accuracy with
which the “willingness to pay” is computed. There are
various methods of measuring “willingness to pay”.
The most commonly used are contingent valuation,
choice experiment and experimental or behavioural
economics methods. Contingent valuation methods
involve directly asking individuals about their
“willingness to pay” to obtain an otherwise unavailable
good. Choice experiments indirectly determine the
“willingness to pay” by econometric estimation based
on choices models. Finally, experimental economics
uses simulations and control groups to reveal the
“willingness to pay” of agents (for more details see
Lusk and Shogren, 2007).

6. Cost-benefit analysis

NTMs do not necessarily embody the economic
inefficiencies that are associated with classical
trade barriers. Therefore, the impact of regulations
is not always inefficient and their removal would not
necessarily achieve efficiency gains that would exceed
the losses from weaker regulation. In practice, NTMs
can provide substantial benefits to the economic
system. For this reason NTMs are often analysed in
a cost-benefit framework. One example of a cost-
benefit framework applied to NTMs is van Tongeren,
Beghin and Marette (2009). The main advantage
of such an approach is that the quantification of
costs and benefits for all the different economic
actors (domestic consumers, domestic and foreign
producers and government, etc.) involved allows for
a more tailored evidence-based treatment of specific
NTMs. This comparative approach to NTMs allows
for the identification of alternative ways to address
a specific regulatory problem. Cost-benefit analysis
is generally used only in specific case studies of
NTMs where detailed information can be obtained.
In practice, the traditional cost-benefit framework
expands the analysis to cover not only the costs or
benefits associated with the presence of NTMs, but

This section presents a review of the empirical literature concerning NTMs. It focuses on
a number of case studies, providing policy recommendations and quantitative analysis
on several sectors, countries and types of NTMs. The papers summarized in this section
also illustrate how some empirical methodologies presented in section II are applied in the
analysis of how NTMs affect trade. The section is organized by type of NTM: it first reviews
a number of studies related to technical measures, including import bans and pre-shipment
inspections and then presents some studies related to other NTMs, such as rules of origin,
export restrictions, State trading enterprises, anti-dumping and tariff rate quotas. Given
the large number of studies on these topics, this review does not intend to be exhaustive.
Nevertheless it provides major insights into issues related to some of the most frequently
used forms of NTM.

A. Technical measures

This section presents case studies which discuss some aspects related to technical
NTMs affecting international trade. These measures are comprehensive of a wide array of
regulations which vary considerably by type, intent and scope. The studies presented here
are limited to some of the most interesting cases from a developing country perspective,
where a thorough empirical analysis allows some of the impacts on trade or welfare of these
types of NTM to be determined.

1. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical regulations

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures include regulations and restrictions to protect human,
animal or plant life or health. TBTs address all other technical regulations, standards and
conformity assessment procedures imposed with a non-trade objective (i.e. to ensure safety,
quality and environmental protection, etc). SPS measures and TBTs are addressed in two
important WTO agreements (see section IV), which impose disciplines that go beyond the
usual non-discrimination.14 Independently from their objective and legal frameworks, SPS
measures and TBTs can have important economic effects on international trade. Those
measures often increase fixed and marginal trade costs and/or production costs. Most SPS

14 Andrew Guzman and Joost H.B. Pauwelyn (2009), International Trade Law, Wolters Kluwer/Aspen




measures and TBTs may raise legitimate concerns
about trade disruption (and/or distortion) which may
have greater implications for developing than for
developed nations. Many of these NTM measures
require improved production processes, investment in
new technology, efficient trade infrastructure and the
use of more expensive shipping methods, all of which
are often more costly to implement in developing
countries. In addition, SPS and TBT regulations
are often administered by a series of conformity
assessment measures (science-based requirements
in the case of SPS measures and a “not-more-trade-
restrictive-than-necessary” test in the case of TBTs),
whose cost, complexity and length may depend on
the origin of the product. Finally, the complex and
sometimes inconsistent application of both regulations
and conformity assessment measures may cause SPS
measures and TBTs to be perceived by developing
nations as creating unfair market access restrictions
to the markets of developed economies.

From an economic standpoint, not all SPS measures
and TBTs have a negative effect on trade. Some
may reduce trade costs by streamlining information
regarding the safety, quality and specifications of
products between trading partners and ultimately
the information provided to consumers. Demand for
product varieties whose imports are regulated by
SPS standards or TBTs may increase because those
measures often provide quality assurance on products
and increase consumer confidence. In practice, the
effect of SPS and TBT measures on trade can be quite
diverse. While some of the effects of SPS measures
and TBTs are linked to trade disruption and trade
diversion, some are linked to trade creation. The
effects of SPS measures and TBTs on trade are also
often related to compliance costs, lack of technology,
weak infrastructures and poor export services, all of
which may impede developing countries in meeting
SPS standards and requirements and overcoming

Empirically, most analyses exploring the effect of
SPS measures and TBTs on trade investigate the
impact of those measures in terms of additional costs
(marginal and fixed), foregone trade, or in relation to
harmonization of standards (in a bilateral or multilateral
context). In terms of scope, most studies focus on
a few economic sectors and very specific types of
restrictions (e.g. maximum residue limits, labelling,
conformity assessments, etc.). With regard to the
empirical approach, the majority of studies of SPS

measures and TBTs generally rely on econometric
estimations, often in the form of gravity models. Some
studies also apply other methods, such as survey
analysis, cost-benefit frameworks and price differential
calculations, as discussed in other sections above.

One of the early and more discussed studies on the
impact of SPS standards on trade is Otsuki, Wilson
and Sewadeh (2001). They provide one of the first
empirical analyses of the substantial impact of SPS
standards on the exports of developed economies.
Using a gravity model framework, their analysis
investigates the impact of European Union regulations
on aflatoxin (a naturally occurring mycotoxin) in a
few selected African export products. Their findings
indicate a quite important effect of the European
Union regulation on African exports of cereals, dried
fruits and nuts. They quantify it as about a 65 per cent
export loss. Since their paper, a number of studies
have investigated similar issues on different countries
and sectors using quantitative methods.

Gebrehiwet, Ngqangweni and Kirsten, (2007) apply
a similar analysis of the trade effect of aflatoxin
regulations set by five members of the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) – Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the
United States – on South African food exports. Their
findings support the hypothesis that the stringent
SPS standards are limiting trade markedly. Their
results indicate that, if the five countries had adopted
the aflatoxin levels recommended by the Codex
Alimentarius (Codex) – instead of the stringent
country-specific standards – South Africa would have
gained an estimated additional amount of $69 million
per year from food exports between 1995 and 1999.
The study concludes that stringent SPS standards set
by developed countries have the potential to offset
the perceived gain of liberalizing tariffs on agricultural

A more recent analysis on the same topic is provided
by Xiong and Beghin (2010). In their work, they cast
doubt on the conventional wisdom that European
Union regulations are trade restrictive. In particular,
they use econometric estimations to investigate
the effect of the tightening of the European Union
maximum residues limit on aflatoxins in 2002 and its
impact on African exports of groundnuts. Their results
show that the change in the maximum residues limit
in European Union regulations had no significant trade
impact on groundnut exports from Africa. They provide
two possible interpretations: either the regulations

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 29

were not binding for African groundnut exporters,
possibly because other factors in production and
behind the border were more binding impediments.
Alternatively, they suggests that it is possible that
the higher production costs related to a tighter limit
generated trade benefits because European Union
consumers valued safer groundnut products. In
practice, the costs and benefits of the more stringent
regulations could have offset each other. In their
paper they suggest that production processes play an
important role in the determination of both the trade
volumes and the propensity to trade in groundnut
products. They conclude that the trade potential of
African groundnuts exporters is more constrained
by domestic supply issues than by European Union

Many studies assess the effect of SPS standards and
TBTs by comparing standards applied by different
export markets on specific products. This approach
allows standards (and markets) which are relatively
more restrictive to be identified. In this regard,
Sithamaparam and Devadason (2011) assess the
impact of NTMs on Malaysian exports by examining
the heterogeneity of various export markets (European
Union, Japan and ASEAN-415). Their analysis is not
restricted to standards but looks at a wider array of
NTMs using the old UNCTAD classification. Their
findings reveal the presence of a diverse effect of
regulations and standards on Malaysian exports, both
across products and across destinations. While TBTs
are found to exert a beneficial impact on industrial
exports, their effect is overall negative for agricultural
exports. They suggest that the Malaysian export-
oriented industrial sectors might be more responsive
in conforming to the standards and regulations of
the importing country. Conversely, they indicate
compliance costs as the main impediment for the
export of agricultural products. They also find a
positive effect of harmonization of standards. Their
results suggest that, while exports to ASEAN-4 have
increased because of the harmonization of regional
standards, they have not increased to the European
Union, which generally adopts different standards to
other regions.

Another study that contributes to the body of
knowledge on the effects of SPS standards from
the perspective of the exporter is Chen, Yang and

15 Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar
and Viet Nam.

Findlay (2008) which studies the effect of regulatory
measures applied to Chinese exports. They examine
Chinese agricultural trade disputes to identify key
agricultural exports which may be constrained by
maximum residue limit regulations. The trade impact
of the regulatory framework is assessed in regression
analyses by using a gravity model. Their results show
that food safety standards imposed by importing
countries have a negative and statistically significant
effect on Chinese exports and that this effect is
generally much larger than that of the existing import
tariff. In addition, they also find that in many cases
the removal of uncertainty facing exporters about
decision-making by import authorities (i.e. certainty of
entry if regulations are met) is more important than the
standards themselves.

The fact that SPS standards and TBTs are often
very different across countries makes harmonization
of standards a policy priority. The argument is that if
standards are necessary (e.g. for food safety), then
commonly agreed international standards based
on scientific grounds should facilitate trade by
harmonizing the production process across countries.
In practice, the harmonization of standards should
remove many of the restrictions to trade, as production
processes do not need to be customized to meet
requirements particular to each export market. The
studies on harmonization generally compare country-
specific standards to internationally set guidelines
(Codex, ISO, etc). This allows any trade effect of a
more stringent national standard to be assessed. In
this regard, Czubala, Shepherd and Wilson (2009)
investigate the impact of harmonized standards on
African exports. They examine the African export
dynamics of products regulated by standards specific
to the European Union versus those regulated by
international standards adopted by the European
Union. They focus on textile and clothing exports
and their findings indicate that standards specific
to the European Union are particularly damaging to
African exports. Conversely, international standards
adopted by the European Union are less restrictive of
trade. Moreover, they find that it is not just mandatory
technical regulations that can have significant trade
impacts, but voluntary product standards as well.
They suggest that while country-specific standards
increase the marginal and fixed costs of exporting for
African firms, the use of international standards as
the basis for harmonization may reduce their costs of
compliance. Their results also suggest that working
toward the harmonization of product rules across


markets could be a supportive policy to encourage the
ability of small and medium-sized firms to enter new
export markets. More generally, the results suggest
that efforts to promote African manufacturing exports
in high-income countries should include international

Another study related to the effect of harmonization
of standards is undertaken by Wilson, Otsuki and
Majumdsar (2003). Their paper examines the impact
of antibiotic residue standards on trade in beef and
analyses the trade effect of setting harmonized
international standards. They specifically look at the
diverse standards applied in six importing countries
or regions (Australia, New Zealand, United States,
Canada, European Union and Japan) and how these
affect exports from a number of countries (Australia,
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Hungary,
Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, South Africa,
Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay and United
States). By using an econometric approach the
authors find that bovine meat imports are significantly
lower for an importing country that has a more
stringent standard on tetracycline (an antibiotic). They
quantify the effect of a worldwide implementation of
international standards set by Codex on an increment
of the international trade of beef of about $3.2 billion.
Among developing countries, South African exports
would rise by $160 million, those of Brazil by $200
million and those of Argentina by over $300 million.
They also find that not all countries would benefit
from such harmonization. Interestingly, they find that
while a universally adopted Codex standard on beef
would significantly increase bovine meat exports from
the emerging developing countries, it would decrease
exports from low-income countries. The reason is
that many low-income countries can export only to
countries applying relatively lax standards as they do
not have production processes in line with the Codex
standards, let alone with the more stringent standards
of many high-income markets. Their findings suggest
that a worldwide international standard on beef may
result in a substantial loss of exports from low-income
countries, at least in the short run.

Another important policy matter is whether standards
should be harmonized multilaterally or on a bilateral
or regional basis. This issue is gaining relevance as
an increasing number of partnership and regional
agreements also concern mutual recognition of
standards or outright harmonization of bilateral
standards. Although multilateral harmonization of

standards under international guidelines is generally
positive for developing countries, the benefits of mutual
recognition of standards are more controversial. The
issue of the detrimental impact that mutual recognition
or harmonization of bilateral standards can have for
developing countries is discussed in Disdier, Cadot
and Fontagné (2012). Their study investigates the
effect of technical requirements contained in North-
South regional trade agreements. They start from the
general evidence that agreements between North and
South lead to a convergence of standards to the more
stringent ones and to the adoption by developing
economies of standards imposed in rich markets. Their
results indicate that the adoption of northern standards
leads to higher quality but also higher costs in the
South. Ultimately, southern countries will increase their
exports to the North, diverting South-South trade. In
this regard, they emphasize how mutual recognition of
standards in North-South regional trade agreements
creates or strengthens the hub-and-spoke structure
of global production networks. More generally, their
findings indicate that harmonization of standards is
often not in the best interests of developing countries
and erodes some of the benefits linked to the signature
of the agreement. They also show that the existence
of North-South regional trade agreements hurts
South-South trade and impedes the diversification of
developing countries into new markets. Overall, their
results suggest that standard harmonization provisions
included in North-South agreements may miss their
target and tend to marginalize southern countries from
the world economy.

On the same issue, Shepherd (2007) presents
empirical evidence that the harmonization of
international standards is associated with increased
export diversification in new markets, while bilateral
harmonization is not. His findings indicate that a 1 per
cent increase in the total number of country-specific
standards leads to a 0.7 per cent decrease in partner
country export variety, but a 1 per cent increase in
the number of internationally harmonized standards
leads to a 0.3 per cent increase in export variety.
Both effects are larger in absolute value terms for
low-income countries than for high-income countries,
thus highlighting the importance of the international
harmonization of standards from a development point
of view. In this regard, multilateral harmonization can
be an effective way of promoting access to foreign
markets for firms with lower productivity, since it
induces an upward shift in the cut-off point of the
export marginal cost. International harmonization

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 31

trading partners for the period from 1996 to 2009.
Their results indicate that the existence of technical
and sanitary regulations related to labelling promotes
trade, while the presence of strict regulations related to
conformity assessment appears to reduce the volume
of Brazilian exports. These results emphasize the
importance of the choices countries make about how
to regulate in order to meet their primary established
purposes, since different types of requirements can
have different impacts upon trade.

The impact of standards is also analysed in terms
of their possible trade-diverting effects. The general
rationale is that the cost of compliance may be
different across countries because of different
technology, infrastructure and geography. Thus the
imposition of SPS and TBT regulations may shift trade
from one producer to another one. In this regard,
Reyes (2011) finds that, while harmonization tends
to increase exports from the developed world, it has
an ambivalent impact on exports from developing
nations. The divergent impact of harmonization
across rich countries and developing countries is in
line with the presence of two distinct market access
frameworks. The explanation is based on the pro-
competitive effect of international harmonization. As
harmonization increases competition, the key feature
that must determine the overall impact in export value,
at the country level, is the unobserved ability of new
firms to start exporting in response to harmonization.
Empirical evidence suggests that while firms in
developed countries are responsive to harmonization,
few firms in developing countries are able to quickly
adapt to the change in product standards.

The impact of standards on different exporters is
also discussed in Chen, Otsuki and Wilson (2006). In
their paper they analyse how foreign standards and
technical regulations affect the export decisions of
firms. Their rationale is that standards represent an
important barrier to entry because compliance with
standards can be quite costly for producers. Less
competitive firms may be cut out of the market. In
this regard, firms in developing countries may be at
a disadvantage. Indeed, their results indicate that
standards and technical regulations do affect the
propensity of developing-country firms to export.
In particular, firms in developing countries tend to
export 16 per cent less of their total sales because
they cannot easily meet testing requirements. Testing
procedures and lengthy inspection processes cause
an even larger adverse impact on agricultural firms

could therefore be expected to encourage exports
by small and medium-sized enterprises in developing
countries, while mutual recognition would not.

The analysis of standards is not always limited to
compliance costs but also includes their effect on
information costs. The rationale is that standards
increase information flows between importers and
exporters and thus may have a positive impact
on trade. In this regard, Moenius (2004) analyses
the impact of country-specific and harmonized
standards on trade. The empirical methodology
relies on estimates of a gravity equation that includes
measures of harmonized and country-specific product
and process standards. While his results support the
general view that harmonized standards promote
trade, the impact varies across sectors. While
standards are found to reduce agricultural trade, they
are found to promote trade in the manufacturing sector.
The author suggests that the relationship between
information costs and compliance costs can explain
these results. Standards, whether country-specific
or harmonized, reduce information costs and allow
for easier contracting (because they provide useful
information for product adaptation). Nevertheless,
compliance with standards is costly. If the costs
of adapting products to foreign markets are small
relative to information costs, the benefits of standards
overcome the adaptation costs. This explains
the positive effect of standards for manufacturing
industries where information costs are likely to be
greater because of a higher technological content. In
non-manufacturing industries and in the agricultural
sector, products are generally homogeneous, so
informational requirements are lower. In these sectors,
compliance costs are likely to dominate information
costs and thus standards have a negative effect on

The positive role of standards in relation to information
costs is also discussed in Fassarella, Pinto de Souza
and Burnquist (2011). In their paper they suggest
that requirements for conformity assessment could
enhance the information content about products and
processes. This information may stimulate demand to
a point that might compensate for the additional costs
introduced by the requirements. In particular, they
evaluate the effects of technical and sanitary measures
introduced by the major importers of Brazilian poultry
meat. The impact of the SPS measures is estimated
using a gravity model constructed with disaggregated
data on bilateral poultry meat between Brazil and its


more advanced production processes, while they are
crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises. The
implications of SPS measures and TBTs for different
typologies of firms and producers are analysed in a
number of papers. Wong (2007) explores the impact
of the non-tariff requirements of major export markets
on Ecuadorian exports of bananas and pineapples.
The analysis is based on survey data from farmers
and exporters. His results indicate that the ability
to cope with SPS and TBT requirements is not the
same for large, medium-sized and small banana and
pineapple producers. Generally, for large producers
there is no problem in complying with SPS and TBT
requirements. However, for medium-sized and small
producers, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to
comply with the stringent requirements from high-
income markets such as the European Union. The
results suggest that the presence of cooperatives can
be a promising solution for small and medium-sized
producers. Cooperatives give more market power
to small producers and provide information on the
standards that producers need to meet to be able to
sell their fruit. Another solution in coping with these
standards is related to export contracts (between
exporters and farmers). These contracts establish
long-term business relationships that improve quality
controls and mutual trust. Interestingly, most of
the large banana and pineapple producers do not
consider SPS standards a crucial trade barrier. Banana
exporters and producers all agree that tariffs are the
main barrier to the banana trade. On the contrary,
for pineapple producers and exporters (given that
pineapples in general are not subject to tariffs in the
United States and the European Union), it is the non-
tariff requirements that are considered a trade barrier
rather than tariffs.

Standards and other NTMs not only affect firms and
producers differently, but ultimately may have strong
redistributive effects and thus affect welfare, poverty
and inequality. Maertens and Swinnen (2009) quantify
the income and poverty effects of standards on trade.
Their paper first analyses how the structure of the fruit
and vegetables export supply chain in Senegal has
changed in response to tightening food standards and
then investigates how this has affected the welfare of
poor households. The authors summarize their findings
in four parts: first, NTMs on fruit and vegetables
do have an impact on poverty, as these products
contribute to poor household incomes in Senegal;
second, exports from Senegal to the European Union
have increased sharply over the past decade, despite

which produce highly perishable goods. Their results
also suggest that the difference in standards across
foreign countries causes diseconomies of scale for
firms and affects decisions about whether to enter
export markets. Their analysis suggests that country-
specific standards result in increasing the marginal
costs of entry (by increasing specialization and market
segmentation) and thus firms do not find it profitable
to diversify into a large number of markets.

Many of the studies reviewed focus only on a particular
type of SPS measure or TBT. However, these
measures may take very different forms and thus
have different effects on international trade. This issue
is analysed by Chen, Otsuki and Wilson (2008) who
examine the importance of various types of standards
for the export decisions of developing-country firms.
Using information from the World Bank TBT survey
database, they find that different types of standards
exhibit sharply distinct relations with the intensive
and extensive margins of exports of firms. Quality
standards are found to be positively correlated not
only with the average export volume of firms, but also
with their export diversification. A similar relationship
is found in regard to labelling requirements. On the
other hand, they find that certification procedures are
associated with a significant decline in the number
of export markets and export products. The results
suggest that the impact of different standards can be
very diverse. Different approaches should therefore be
taken in addressing each type of technical regulation.
By reducing consumer uncertainty about the quality of
products, quality standards and labelling requirements
can significantly increase the willingness to pay and
thus increase the profits of firms. The negative effect
of conformity assessments suggests that repetition
in testing and certification procedures in multiple
markets can cause significant diseconomies of scale
and scope. The policy implication of their study is that
not all standards need to be negotiated, as some may
have positive effects for exporters. They point to the
importance of negotiations on streamlining certification
procedures which should help firms improve their
economies of scale and scope.

The effect of SPS measures and TBTs can also be
analysed in the context of supply capacity and
production constraints. Meeting SPS standards
or overcoming TBTs often requires long-term
investments that are not available to many firms. The
implications are that regulations and standards may
not represent a critical problem for larger firms with

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 33

Their findings suggest that better management
practices are more profitable, even considering the
higher cost of implementation. The alternative of
disease-resistant shrimp is not competitive because
of a much lower profit margin in consumer markets.
Finally, the third case study investigates imports of
cut flowers into the European Union. The European
Union recently strengthened its regulatory measures
on imports of cut flowers to limit the possible spread
of organisms harmful to plants or plant products. This
negatively affected imports from developing countries,
largely because tighter inspection led to losses related
to depreciated quality (which in turn is due to time
requirements for inspection procedures). Improved
production methods in exchange for reduced
inspection tightness also led to diminished profits for
foreign suppliers, because of higher production costs.
In all cases, the increase in inspection costs is found
to outweigh the estimated gain to the domestic sector
from being less prone to plant disease. That is, the
authors find that taking all costs and benefits together,
the estimated net benefits of tighter inspection are

Import bans are intrinsically related to SPS measures
and TBTs, as they are frequently imposed in relation
to events or circumstances that may result in hazard
to human, animal or plant life or health from either
pests, disease or from contaminated food, beverages
or feedstuffs. They can also be introduced in relation
to mandatory SPS and TBT regulations imposed by
the importing country, such as requirements imposed
to improve national security. Classic and well-known
cases of import bans are related to the insurgence of
epidemics in exporting countries (e.g. avian influenza,
bovine spongiform encephalopathy), or to the more
general need to protect the environment and the
agricultural sector from exotic invasive pests and
pathogens. While import bans are extreme measures
which have a dramatic impact on international trade,
there is no disagreement about the basic need for
an exception to WTO obligations that allows States
to exclude from their markets products that are
unsafe.16 Under the WTO SPS Agreement a scientific
risk assessment is needed to justify an import ban. In
practice, the legitimacy of an import ban is related to
a convincing scientific proof of the necessity of such
a ban. From an economic standpoint, the cost of an
import ban needs to be assessed in a cost-benefit

16 Andrew Guzman and Joost H.B. Pauwelyn (2009),
International Trade Law, Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers.

increasing standards in the European Union; third,
tightening food standards has induced structural
changes in the supply chain, including a shift from
smallholder contract-based farming to large-scale
integrated estate production; and fourth, the welfare
implications of higher standards for export production
are found to be positive for poor rural households. In
practice, their findings suggest that the restructuring of
the supply chain has altered the mechanism through
which local households benefit: increasingly through
labour markets instead of through product markets.
More so, landless poor households can now benefit
relatively more from working on large-scale farms than
from contract farming.

Another study examining the welfare effects of SPS
measures and TBTs is that by van Tongeren et al.
(2010). This study applies a cost-benefit framework,
where the cost of the imposition and implementation
of the regulatory framework is weighed against any
welfare or economic loss. The paper illustrates the
effect of NTMs on three specific sectors and focuses
on mandatory regulatory measures (SPS measuress)
implemented by OECD Governments. In the first case
study they look at the regulatory framework on imports
of raw milk cheese in Quebec, Canada. Their results
indicate that, although the requirements imposed on
imported unpasteurized cheese were reasonable on
health and safety grounds, a more lax regulation would
produce gains to domestic consumers from larger
choice and higher supplies. Moreover, these gains
would outweigh any health risk due to the possibility
of bacterial contamination. A critical issue on these
types of analysis is how to measure health risk. The
authors adopt a “willingness to pay” method (the
maximum amount a person would be willing to pay,
sacrifice or exchange in order to receive a good or
to avoid something undesired, such as sickness). The
second case study investigates shrimp imports from
South-East Asia to OECD countries. Major importing
markets impose strict regulations on shrimps, which
are required to be free of bacteria and antibiotics. In
cases where shrimps test positive, consignments
are rejected and further consignments are subject
to 100 per cent testing requirements or temporary
import bans. To comply with these SPS requirements,
many developing countries have tried to improve
their production methods so as to avoid the use of
antibiotics. Two different changes are analysed: a shift
either to better management practices involving a less
intensive and more environmentally friendly production
method, or to a more disease resistant shrimp variety.


benefits of developing an adaptation strategy. They
show that, even when net economic welfare gains
could be realized from lifting import bans, it may still
be suboptimal to do so immediately when a longer
time horizon is considered. More specifically, they
analyse the trade-off between delaying the lifting of
an import ban and the benefits from engaging in freer
trade immediately. As the threat of economic damage
from biological invasions of pests and pathogens may
be significant, it is important to determine carefully
the optimal trade policy to be adopted. Their analysis
highlights the fact that the economic analysis should
carefully assess welfare benefits against the implicit
risk of removing an import ban. In fact, they point
out that previous research based on static economic
net welfare benefit analyses can mistakenly support
decisions in favour of unrestricted free trade, even
in the presence of high-risk imports of agricultural
commodities. They conclude that both welfare
implications and sound scientific evidence have to
be taken into account. When scientific evidence
is not readily available, it is often optimal to wait
for more substantial evidence than remove import
restrictions. To determine the optimal timing of when
trade bans should be lifted in the face of a biological
invasion and research and development uncertainty,
they develop a stochastic continuous-time model
of optimal quarantine decisions. In the case of
Australia, they quantify the optimal delay to free trade
in bananas as 5.5 years from the time research into
banana-specific exotic pests and pathogens and
the development of effective adaptive strategies
commence. More generally, their numerical results
highlight the importance of accounting for uncertainty
and irreversibility when developing rules based on
economic decisions to determine optimal quarantine
policies related to import bans.

The import of Hass avocados into the United States
is another interesting case in the literature. Imports of
fresh Mexican Hass avocados into the United States
have been restricted, totally or partially, since 1914
on grounds of the potential risk of pest infestation,
especially for Californian producers. In 1997, entry of
Mexican Hass avocados was allowed into 19 north-
eastern states and the District of Columbia during a
four-month period. In 2001, the area approved for
import was expanded by an additional 12 states and
the period of import was extended to six months. In
2003, the Government of Mexico requested access
for avocados from approved orchards into all 50
states throughout the year. This case is analysed by

framework by comparing the threat of economic
damage – due to the actual risk posed to human,
animal or plant health – to the welfare loss due to the
unavailability of the product.

The import ban imposed on bananas by Australia is a
fairly well-known and well-studied case of the effect of
such measures on producers and consumers. Since
the Quarantine Act in 1908, the Australian default
position on quarantine has been to ban imports of
biological material, unless it is shown to be safe to
do otherwise. This trade policy stance has created
and continues to create tensions with Australia’s
trade partners, especially South-East Asian banana
producers. In the specific case of bananas, Australia
requires stringent import protocols that often result in
a de facto import ban. On one hand, the ban benefits
Australian growers of bananas by protecting their
production from possible exotic pests and pathogens
introduced with imports. On the other hand, Australian
consumers of bananas continue to face higher prices.
The study by James and Anderson (1998) was one
of the first to demonstrate the potential value of
economics in quarantine decisions using the Australian
banana market as a case study. In their work, a
static, cost-benefit partial equilibrium model is used
to compare three situations with respect to imports,
namely: an outright ban, a cost-free regime for import
risk management at the border and unrestricted
(but unsafe) free trade. They conclude that even if
imported diseases wiped out the local industry, the
gains to consumers would outweigh the losses to
producers competing with imports from removing a
ban on imports. This would leave the country better
off than with the import ban. Javelosa and Schmitz
(2006) undertake a similar analysis using data for the
year 2003. They extend the study from James and
Anderson (1998) by calculating the welfare effects for
the Philippines of a change in the Australian import
regime. They apply static and deterministic analysis
and reach a similar conclusion: even if exotic pests
and diseases were to wipe out the Australian banana
industry, the country would still be better off by allowing
the free importation of bananas than by continuing
with the long-run practice of banning imports.

A more recent work on the same issue by Leroux
and Maclaren (2011) reaches a different conclusion.
This work uses a dynamic model which allows a
more sophisticated analysis of the consequences of
lifting an import ban, both in the short and long run.
Moreover, the authors take into account the costs and

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 35

restructured the international flow of poultry products.
In the years before the HPAI epidemic the principal
driver of the Asian poultry market was Japanese
demand for unprepared poultry from China and
Thailand. As HPAI outbreaks spread through Asia,
Japanese importers shifted their suppliers to the
advantage of countries which were free of HPAI. Brazil
was the main beneficiary of the import ban imposed
on Chinese and Thai exporters because of its large
supply capacity and competitive products relative to
other HPAI-free countries, namely the United States.
An interesting finding of this study is that the Thai and
Chinese poultry industries were able to contain the
negative consequence of avian influenza. In fact, the
poultry industries in South-East Asia largely refocused
their export markets by converting production from
unprepared meat (subject to import bans) to prepared
poultry meat (perceived as safer by consumers and
not subject to import bans). In particular, Thai poultry-
exporting firms managed to quickly refocus their
exports from unprepared to prepared poultry meats.
The author concludes by suggesting that the HPAI
outbreaks may have accelerated a transition to the
production and export of higher value added products.

2. Pre-shipment inspections

Pre-shipment inspections (PSIs) are measures
requiring imports to be inspected by a private
surveillance company at the origin of a shipment,
instead of just at the customs of the importing
country. Governments impose PSIs to ensure that
the price charged by the exporter reflects the true
value of the goods, to check the quality of goods
that enter their country and to mitigate attempts to
avoid the payment of import taxes. Often, the main
purpose of PSIs is to streamline import procedures
in countries where customs administration is weak.
PSIs provide a parallel information system enabling
client Governments to control the tax collection
functions of their own bureaucracies. In this regard,
PSI services are used to fight evasion of import tariffs,
curb underinvoicing and fight corruption at customs.
PSIs were given official legitimacy in international
trade with the 1993 ratification of the Agreement on
Preshipment Inspection (Dutz (2000).

In an interesting study, Anson, Cadot and Olarreaga
(2006) analyse whether PSIs help reduce tariff evasion.
They investigate whether PSI programmes are an

Peterson et al. (2004), who assess the economic
impact of allowing imports of fresh Mexican Hass
avocados into the United States without geographic
or seasonal restrictions. The authors adopt a static,
partial equilibrium model to analyse the impact
of removing the partial import ban on Mexican
avocados. Their analysis clearly shows the trade-
creation and trade-diversion effects of the regulatory
regime. Expanding access throughout the year to
all states would cause a decrease in production and
prices for California and Chilean producers, while
Mexican exports would increase. However they find
net welfare benefits for the United States as a whole,
since consumers there would benefit from a greater
availability of fresh avocados at lower prices and the
gain in consumer welfare would more than offset the
loss in producer welfare.

Another common cause of import bans is the outbreak
of animal diseases. The outbreak can trigger worldwide
import restrictions that greatly penalize exporting
countries where the outbreak originates. Such events
often result first in a sudden drop of demand and then
in significant increases in exports for non-affected
exporters once there is enough confidence that the
outbreak is localized and contained. In practice, the
trade-diversion effects of import bans due to disease
outbreaks are quite large and so are the gains that
non-affected countries may reap. Felt, Gervais and
Larue, (2010), study the case of Japanese pork
imports, where the risk of foot and mouth disease
motivated the Japanese decision to impose a ban on
pork exports from Taiwan Province of China in 1997.
At the time, Taiwan Province of China was supplying
41 per cent of Japanese pork imports. The authors
look at whether the exit of a major competitor affected
the remaining exporters (United States, Denmark and
Canada) by allowing them to command higher prices.
Their results suggest that foreign exporters were
delayed by two years in making adjustments after the
exit of Taiwan Province of China from the Japanese
market. United States exporters were able to reap
most of the market opportunities stemming from that

Another interesting case study of the trade effects of
a disease outbreak is related to the avian influenza
(HPAI) pandemic. This case is analysed by Nicita
(2008), who illustrates the effect that import bans
due to HPAI have had on the international trade of
poultry products. The findings of this study suggest
that the outbreaks of avian influenza have substantially


B. Non-technical measures

This section presents case studies which discuss
some aspects related to non-technical NTMs affecting
international trade. As non-technical measures vary
considerably by type, intent and scope, the review
is not intended to be comprehensive. The studies
presented here are limited to some of the most
interesting case studies from a developing-country
perspective, where a thorough empirical analysis
allows some of the impacts of these types of NTMs
on trade or welfare to be determined. The selected
case studies cover measures including State trading
enterprises, tariff rate quotas, rules of origin, export
taxes and anti-dumping.

1. State trading enterprises

State trading enterprises (STEs) are enterprises
authorized to engage in trade (exporting and/or
importing) that is owned, sanctioned or otherwise
supported by Government. They are legitimate
trading entities, subject to WTO definition and rules.
Because they can affect international trade they have
become an important policy issue. From an economic
standpoint, STEs do not have an unambiguous effect
on trade, as they are simply instruments through
which Governments control market structures as a
mean of redistributing income between producers,
consumers and taxpayers. In practice, Governments
use them to regulate markets as a means to
implement redistributive policies. Generally their trade
effects may be equivalent to an export subsidy in
developed countries, while in developing countries
the effect of them can often be equivalent to an export
tax. In any case, their effect on trade and welfare is
often suboptimal and their reform may expand market
access and reinforce the benefits of international
trade. Among the formal economic analyses related
to them, a series of studies by McCorriston and
MacLaren specifically analyse whether State trading
exporters distort trade and affect welfare.

State trading enterprises can take different forms,
depending on the rights they are entitled to.
McCorriston and MacLaren (2005a) focus on their
effect on importing countries and how that effect
depends on their different rights. An STE may have
single-desk authority over imports, together with sole

effective way of improving tariff revenue collection and
of reducing fraud when customs administrations are
inefficient. The authors show that the introduction of
PSIs may not mitigate the level of fraud, in particular
when PSI data is not systematically reconciled with
customs data by national authorities. They identify two
diverse effects related to the introduction of PSIs: on
one hand, PSIs directly generate information useful for
detecting possible tariff evasion schemes; on the other
hand, PSIs may provide disincentives for additional
custom controls as they may act as a strategic
substitute for customs administration. In other words,
although common sense would suggest that PSIs
can only improve the ability of national authorities to
gather more information and hence to better control
fraud, it may have a perverse effect on the motivation
to control customs. In practice, PSIs should not be
the only instrument for Governments to combat tariff
evasion, but should be paired with additional customs
controls. Lastly, the authors find that the effect of
PSIs can also be negative because PSI services are
generally expensive. PSI companies are paid a share
– around 1 per cent – of the import value inspected.
Besides adding to trade costs, the authors suggest
that the fee creates incentives for PSI companies to
“overcorrect” underinvoicing in order to maximize
their revenue. In order to avoid being challenged by
importers or customs officers, this overcorrection is
more likely to occur on products with low tariffs, which
generally attract less scrutiny.

The incentives for PSIs to overinvoice are also analysed
in Yeats (1991). This study adopts a cost-benefit
approach in evaluating the effect of PSI on customs
valuations. It analyses the relative import prices in
Madagascar before and after the introduction of PSI.
In particular, the paper examines whether Madagascar
paid “inflated” prices for some goods and, if so, how
effective PSI was in counteracting this problem.
The author concludes that PSI failed to reduce the
excessive import prices Madagascar was paying. In
fact, Madagascar paid a premium for most imported
goods before and after PSI was adopted. The author
finds the most extreme overpayments clustered in
chemicals and basic manufactures products where
PSI was generally required. Furthermore, the study
shows that collaborative false invoicing may exist, as
indicated by the fact that the import prices of high tariff
items (subject to higher controls) were significantly
below those of low tariff products (less controlled).

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 37

that it would be necessary to pay to (or the export
tax that would be implicitly imposed on) private firms
to replicate the observed level of exports. It is shown
that, even if an STE increases the welfare of domestic
producers and consequently expands exports relative
to those in a deregulated market, the end result may
nevertheless be a net reduction in welfare because of
higher domestic prices. Moreover, the effect of STEs
may also reduce the welfare of competing exporter
countries (because of lower international prices) and,
despite the gains to importers, reduce global welfare.

In a more recent paper, McCorriston and MacLaren
(2007) examine the welfare effect of the Canadian
Wheat Board, which received much attention from
the United States and the European Union in the
WTO agriculture negotiations, and of the China
National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation in
China, which received attention in the negotiations
on Chinese accession to WTO. Their study finds that
the Canadian Wheat Board is equivalent to an implicit
export subsidy. The domestic welfare effect essentially
involves transfers from consumers to producers.
In the case of the China National Cereals, Oils and
Foodstuffs Corporation, the results show that the size
of the trade distortion depends on whether the bias of
the underlying agricultural policy favours consumers or
producers. More generally, the authors conclude that
the presence of STEs is suboptimal and tends to lead
to a reduction in welfare because it essentially involves
inefficient redistribution. As with more traditional trade
policy instruments, removing them would be likely to
increase domestic and world welfare because third-
country importers would also be affected.

An important issue of consideration in relation to
STEs is that their redistributive purpose indirectly
creates rents which may increase corruption and
inefficiencies. For them to achieve their intended
goal, proper administration is therefore essential. In
this regard, a study examining how a badly managed
STE can evolve into a wasteful enterprise is a paper
from Cadot, Dutoit and de Melo (2009). This paper
focuses on how the Madagascan Vanilla Marketing
Board affected prices paid to farmers, incentives and
ultimately poverty. Marketing boards are a common
form of STE in developing countries and typically
buy up the domestic supply of a good and sell it
on the international market. The prime motive in the
establishment of marketing boards is to stabilize
producer prices, particularly in the case of products
whose international price fluctuations are large, or to

control over domestic procurement and sales; or it
may compete with private sector firms for domestic
procurement and sales but have exclusive rights only
with regard to imports. It may also coexist with private
firms in both markets. The effect of the reform of State
trading on market access and welfare will largely
depend on the nature of these rights, how these rights
are changed in the process of deregulation and the
extent of private sector competition that subsequently
arises. The paper by McCorriston and MacLaren
presents a model that provides a direct tariff-equivalent
measure of the trade-distorting effect of STEs which
is contingent on the nature of the exclusive rights
that apply. The authors also use a computable partial
equilibrium model to evaluate quantitatively the effect
of an STE on market access and welfare in the
Japanese wheat sector. The paper shows that when
an STE has the objective of transferring income to
producers, it not only impedes imports but it generally
reduces the welfare of the country. They also show
that importing STEs – which in developed countries
are assumed to have a policy bias towards producers
– have the potential to distort trade significantly by
restricting market access for foreign competitors and
in so doing reducing welfare in exporting countries.
Even STEs in developing economies – assumed by
the authors to be concerned about consumer welfare
and profits from the sales of the good and not about
producer welfare – are likely to inhibit trade, despite the
focus on the interests of consumers. More generally,
the results suggest that the trade-distorting effect of
STEs is likely to vary considerably, depending on the
type that arises in particular circumstances.

In another paper, McCorriston and MacLaren (2005b)
investigate the trade-distorting effects of a “single-
desk” type of STE (i.e. those that have exclusive rights
in both the domestic and export markets). They analyse
the effect of the Canadian and Australian wheat boards,
which differ in the exclusive rights that their respective
Governments have given them. The study shows that,
depending on the nature of the exclusive rights and
the interaction with other government policies, the
trade-distorting effects of STEs can be equivalent
to either an export subsidy or an export tax. They
argue that, in considering the magnitude of the trade
distortion, it is important to consider the benchmark or
counterfactual against which STEs are compared (i.e.,
the domestic market structure that would evolve after
an STE loses its exclusive rights). To measure the effect
of STEs on trade, the authors develop a framework
to determine the implicit export subsidy equivalent


One study examining the impact of TRQs on market
access is Li and Carter (2009). They conduct a
comprehensive study of agricultural TRQs and identify
factors affecting the importance of TRQs in terms of
market access. The analysis covers individual TRQs
notified by 28 WTO member countries from 1995 to
2000. The paper uses econometrics to deal properly
with the double-censored nature of TRQ fill rates.
The results show that reducing in-quota tariffs will
significantly improve market access, while the market
access effect of any reduction in above-quota tariffs is
marginal. The authors also find that TRQ administration
methods are a principal determinant of the volume and
distribution of trade and of the distribution of quota
rents. Each method has its own advantages and
disadvantages, incurs transaction costs of different
magnitudes, results in different hidden costs and fill
rates and affects imports differently. The findings of the
study also indicate that a simple applied tariff method
is superior to other administration methods and has
the least impact on market access. This suggests
that the sooner the transitional TRQ regime is phased
out and replaced by a tariff-only regime, the greater
market access will be. The authors also argue that
reforming TRQ administration methods is a key issue
in trade negotiations.

The TRQ system was instituted in the aftermath of
the Agreement on Agriculture of the Final Act of the
Uruguay Round, which set new rules for trade in
agricultural products. The implementation of TRQs
was also envisaged as a means to ameliorate market
access for the exports of developing countries.
However, TRQ allocation is not always in favour
of developing countries. Since they are potentially
large exporters of the agricultural products subject
to TRQs, a more flexible administration of TRQs is
of great importance for these countries. Khorana
(2004) focuses on Swiss agricultural imports and
discusses whether TRQs enhance or discriminate
against market access for agricultural exports from
developing countries. The study illustrates the existing
modalities for the allocation of licences and argues
that an efficient TRQ administration is one that allows
for full utilization of import quotas, is transparent,
certain and at the same time efficiently liberates the
distribution of trade from the distribution of rents. As
TRQs are often not fully utilized, an important feature
of their administration should be permission for the
resale of quota rights. This would provide low-cost
suppliers with an opportunity to purchase quota rights
from high-cost exporters and would facilitate new

try to obtain higher international prices by regulating
supply. In the 1960s, Madagascar was one of the
major producers of vanilla and thus a cartel was
formed with other smaller regional producers with
the purpose of taking advantage of the huge market
power of the region to obtain higher prices. This was
implemented by establishing a marketing board with
the task of fixing producer and export prices. In the
initial years, the Marketing Board was successful as
the worldwide market share of the cartel increased
to more than 80 per cent, while international prices
climbed. However, in the late 1970s the sector started
to become uncompetitive, largely because of rent-
seeking and corruption. The gap between producers
and export prices constantly increased, with farmers
receiving less than 8 per cent of the international price
of vanilla. Low producer prices discouraged plantation
and made it all but impossible for farmers to renew
plant material and maintain quality. In addition, while
part of the supply was destroyed to sustain high prices,
the overpricing in international markets encouraged
other countries (notably Indonesia) to increase
plantation and enter the international market. As a
consequence, the market power of the cartel declined
to less than 40 per cent in the mid-1990s. Only when
the Marketing Board was finally abolished in 1995 was
Madagascar able to regain market share and increase
the quality of its vanilla production. Although this also
resulted in an increase in the volatility of world prices,
the overall result was positive. The study quantifies the
elimination of the Marketing Board as translating into
increased income for producers that resulted in lifting
about 20,000 individuals out of poverty.

2. Tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas (TRQs) combine two policy
instruments: quotas and tariffs. Imports entering
under the quota portion are usually subject to a
lower (sometimes zero), tariff rate. Imports above the
quantitative threshold of the quota face a much higher
tariff. In theory, TRQs are not quantitative restrictions,
as the import quantity is not limited and above-quota
imports are permitted at the higher tariff. In practice,
above-quota tariffs are often prohibitive, thus the
effect of a TRQ is often equal to a simple quota.
Although the utilization of TRQs for enhancing market
access is a key component of global agricultural trade
negotiations, there is little empirical evidence of the
impact of TRQ implementation practices on market

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 39

eroded by the compliance costs associated with RoO.
In these cases, exporters from eligible countries may
find it optimal to opt out of the preferential schemes,
thus defeating their primary purpose.

Cadot and de Melo (2008) provide a comprehensive
overview of the issues related to preferential RoO.
Their study points to the complexity of RoO and
the related compliance costs imposed on eligible
countries. It highlights how the burden imposed by
the RoO applied by many developed countries is often
beyond the level that would be justified to prevent
trade deflection. Even so, the authors indicate that the
system of RoO applied by developed countries often
defeats the developmental aspect of RoO. Forcing
southern producers to inefficiently source intermediate
goods locally or in high-income markets (instead of
from the most price-competitive sources) raises overall
costs. More generally, RoO are found to substantially
reduce preferential access margins and to create rents
for northern producers.

Another constraint resulting from RoO requirements is
related to the presence of overlapping RoO schemes.
In this regard, Brenton and Özden (2005) analyse
the role of different RoO in the textile and apparel
sector in Africa. Their study examines the nature of
trade preferences for apparel and the evolution of the
apparel trade from developing country beneficiaries.
Most African countries are granted preferential market
access to the European Union, the United States and
Japan. However preferential access is regulated by
RoO that are specific to each importing country. The
differences in preferential arrangements regarding RoO
create inefficiencies for exporters as they find it very
costly to adjust their production operations in order
to benefit from all preferences. In practice, an African
apparel product allowed to enter under one country’s
preference scheme will not be able to enter under
another. This has the consequence of segmenting
export markets rather than providing incentives for

The trade impact of similar RoO can be quite diverse
depending on their requirements. A paper comparing
the effects of different RoO, undertaken by de Melo
and Portugal-Perez (2008), investigated the schemes
of the European Union and the United States. The
European Union and the United States offer similar
preferential market access for apparel exports to a
group of African countries (a 10 per cent preferential
margin). However, these agreements differ in their
product-specific rules of origin. While the European

entries. The author concludes that a TRQ by itself is
not a major market access barrier, but when TRQs are
used as non-tariff barriers they have the potential to
impede market access for the products of developing

3. Rules of origin

Rules of origin (RoO) are the criteria needed to
determine the country of origin of a product. Their
importance is derived from the fact that duties and
import restrictions may depend upon the origin of
imports. RoO are categorized as preferential and
non-preferential. They serve different purposes. Non-
preferential RoO are generally used to determine the
country of origin in regard to allocation of quotas
and the effect of contingency protection measures.
Preferential RoO determine which products can benefit
from preferential access and are deemed necessary
to enforce preferential schemes. Preferential RoO
are further divisible into rules on general preferential
treatment (under Generalized System of Preferences
(GSP) schemes) and those relating to regional trade
agreements. Preferential RoO play a major role in
the new trading system and are an integral part of
all trade agreements. From an economic standpoint,
preferential RoO have a direct effect on international
trade as they affect the rate of import taxation.

The primary justification for the use of preferential
RoO is to prevent trans-shipment (trade deflection).
In theory, preferential RoO are in the interest of
beneficiary countries as they guarantee that countries
non-eligible for preferential treatment do not free-
ride on the preferential scheme by trans-shipping
or minimally processing their export goods through
eligible countries. Imports from an eligible trade
partner which are produced using materials or
components from a third (non-eligible) country will not
qualify for preference unless they comply with RoO.
Another justification for the use of RoO in North-South
preferential trade agreements is that they can foster
the emergence of integrated manufacturing activities in
southern partners. Given the increasing fragmentation
of production processes across different countries,
RoO need to be stringent and complex to serve their
primary scope. However, stringency and complexity
impose substantial additional costs to beneficiary
countries. In extreme cases, the preferential margin
guaranteed by the preferential scheme is completely


the case of pashmina the level is above the qualifying
range only when the value content is calculated with
the build-up method.18 The findings provide further
evidence that RoO criteria and verification procedures
need to be revised to allow least-developed countries
to benefit from preferential trade.

4. Export restrictions

Export restrictions come in a variety of forms. They
include quantitative restrictions or taxes imposed by
the exporting country, charges, mandatory minimum
export prices, strict export licensing and domestic sales
requirements.19 Export restrictions are often considered
domestic policies and are generally not notified to any
international body.20 However, export restrictions have
an important effect on international markets. In fact,
by reducing international supply, export restrictions
have been shown to increase international prices. In
this regard, particular attention has been given to the
detrimental impact that such measures can have on
issues related to food security. The justifications for
imposing export restrictions include price stabilization,
generating government revenues, promoting

method is used to examine the value of non-originating
materials that are used in the production process. Both
methods allow verifying the fulfillment of the RoO provisions.
18 For the build-down method, the regional value content
is = ((AV-VNM)/AV)*100, where AV is the invoice value;
and VNM is the value of non-originating materials used by
the producer in the production of the good. For the build-
up method, the regional value is RVC = (VOM/AV)*100,
where VOM is the value of originating materials used by the
producer in the production of the good. Whether a material is
originating or non-originating is subject to very specific rules.
19 Another less obvious form of export restriction is the
reduction of VAT rebates. Producers may choose to supply
more products to domestic markets while choose to export
products that are further downstream (or upstream) in the
production chain so as not to be penalized for exporting
non-rebated products. (Korinek and Kim, 2010).
20 Such restrictions are not included in WTO disciplines,
except for Article I (Unconditional MFN treatment for both
exports and imports) and Article XI of the GATT 1994
stipulating that there is a general prohibition on quantitative
restrictions (both on exports and imports). In addition, a
notable general exception exists in GATT 1994 for reasons
that relate to the “conservation of exhaustible natural
resources if such measures are made effective in conjunction
with restrictions on domestic production or consumption”
(Article XX, GATT 1994).

Union Everything but Arms initiative and the Cotonou
Agreement required yarn to be woven into fabric
and then made up into apparel in the same country
or in a country qualifying for cumulation (double
transformation), The United States African Growth
and Opportunity Act granted a special regime to least
developed countries allowing them to use fabric from
any origin and still meet the criteria for preferences
(single transformation). Since most African least-
developed countries do not have highly developed
industries, in many cases it is impossible for them to
fulfil the stringent RoO requirements without incurring
additional production costs and thus intermediate
inputs are largely imported. The authors of the paper
find that although both agreements have similar
utilization rates, they have quite different effects for
African exports. Using several estimation methods,
they find that export performance to the United States
market is constantly higher than to the European
Union market, both in terms of trade values and in
the number of products exported. They conclude
that strict RoO – such as the double-transformation
requirement imposed by the European Union – has
discouraged African exports at both the intensive and
the extensive margins.

Preferential RoO are also applied to regulate the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Khanal
(2011) analyses the different RoO in GSP schemes
and their impact on Nepalese exports. Despite three
quarters of Nepalese exports potentially enjoying
preferential market access, preference utilization
is low due to various stringent RoO requirements.
In particular, the study examines the effect of RoO
criteria on carpets, pashmina (a type of cashmere
wool), handicrafts and tea exports from Nepal to
the European Union, Japan and the United States.
The analysis is based on a small-scale survey aimed
at analysing the experience of firms with the RoO
provisions. Khanal reports that a sizeable number of
respondents indicated that documentation processes,
registration and controls at custom points related
to RoO often constrained exports and added costs
to exportable products in the range of 20 to 30 per
cent. In addition, the author finds that whether these
products qualify for the preferential scheme depends
on the method adopted to assess the total value
content of each product.17 Khanal calculates that in

17 There are two main methods to assess value content.
The build-up method is used to verify the value of originating
materials used in the production of goods. The build-down

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 41

restrictions should have resulted in a decrease in the
production of molybdenum in China. This has not been
the case, as the production of molybdenum has risen
continually since 2004 by approximately 30 per cent
per year. They conclude that the measures did not
achieve their stated objectives. In the second case,
they review the imposition of an export tax on chromite
(a mineral) by India, aimed at providing a greater supply
of this mineral to the domestic market. The application
of the export tax did not significantly change the level
of production of chromite in India, however export
restrictions resulted in diverting Chinese imports from
India to other countries, especially South Africa. They
find that the restrictions imposed by one country can
lead to a situation of competitive policy practices, with
other countries imposing similar export taxes. One
implication of this research is that when spare supply
capacity is limited, export restrictions can easily spread
across countries, with disastrous consequences for
global supply and international prices. The third case
analyses the decision by the Government of China to
preserve its rare earths resources by imposing a series
of export measures. In this case, the authors find that
export restrictions can impact potential investments
in mining facilities worldwide by introducing an added
element of risk in the industry, i.e. the possibility of
sharp changes in world prices due to the relaxing of
Chinese restrictions.

Export restrictions are generally implemented for
domestic purposes, mainly as price mechanisms.
One paper focusing on the domestic impact of
export restriction is Nogués (2008). The author
utilizes a general equilibrium model to investigate
whether Argentine export restrictions met their stated
domestic objectives of mitigating food prices. He
argues that such policies have succeeded in easing
pressure on domestic prices but at the expense of
the economic and social performance of the country.
The results suggest that an elimination of the export
barriers imposed on agriculture could increase GDP
between 2 and 4 per cent and lead to an expansion
of employment by 300,000 jobs. However, since
these gains would take time to materialize, temporary
adjustment mechanisms would be required in order
to reduce the social costs of higher domestic prices.
In terms of government revenues, the removal of
export barriers would result in an immediate loss
of revenue. However, this loss could be more than
compensated by the additional collection of income
tax, triggered by higher producer prices and expanded
production. The author also finds that price controls

downstream processing industries and preserving
natural resources. Indirect objectives are domestic
food security, export diversification, resource allocation
and income distribution. Export restrictions are often
used when countries have great market power. They
are sometimes used with other mechanisms, such as
import tariffs (on both the product itself and on inputs),
to promote the development of a domestic processing
industry (import substitution industrialization).

An overview of the economic effects of an export
tax on prices and the volume of exports is given in
Piermartini (2004). The discussion in this paper focuses
on the positive and negative aspects of an export tax
as an instrument of trade policy to improve the terms
of trade of developing countries, reduce commodity
price fluctuations and inflationary pressures, favour
economic diversification and ease the collection
of government revenues. The author reviews the
experiences of a number of countries in implementing
export taxes on commodities. The study indicates
that export taxes encourage inefficient production and
consumption patterns, as well as inefficient resource
allocation, and eventually cause a dead weight loss for
the world economy. The author indicates that export
taxes can only be justified as a short-term second-
best policy option, when best policy options are not
feasible. Moreover, export taxes should be temporary
and should thus require the specification of an explicit
timetable for their removal. Finally, the findings of this
study highlight the importance of analysing the effects
of an export tax, not only on the markets for the taxed
commodity but also on the markets for substitutable
and complementary goods and on the backward and
forward markets in the production chain.

An applied study of the impact of export restrictions
on trade and global supply is undertaken by Korinek
and Kim (2010). The authors present three case
studies on the impact of export restrictions on different
raw materials and on producers and consumers. The
first case considers how China has used several
export restrictions on exports of molybdenum
(export taxes, export licensing system, VAT rebates
and export quotas) for environmental reasons and
for preservation of natural resources. By analysing
trade flows of both molybdenum and its processed
products, the authors do not observe evidence that
the export restrictions implemented in 2007 had the
desired effect on production. In fact, in order to fulfil
the stated policy objectives of environmental stability
and the preservation of natural resources, the export


are clearly inferior to free trade but superior to export
quotas. The reason is that under these policies, unlike
under export quotas, supply is allowed to respond to
world market prices.

5. Anti-dumping

A firm is considered to be dumping if it exports
a product at a lower price than the value of the
product on its own domestic market. In a worst-case
scenario, dumping can even act as a predatory price
practice, forcing established domestic producers out
of a market and leading to monopolistic positions by
the exporting firm. Domestic firms may counteract
dumping practices by filing anti-dumping petitions.
The anti-dumping procedure is complex and regulated
by a specific WTO agreement. The agreement does
not pass judgment, but provides guidelines as to how
a Government can or cannot respond to dumping.
When dumping is found, anti-dumping measures often
result in the imposition of additional import duties so
as to re-establish market prices.

More than 40 members of WTO are now active users
of an anti-dumping policy and developing countries
are some of the newest and most frequent users. As
for the effects of the increased anti-dumping usage by
developing economies, there has been relatively little
research. One issue of concern is that anti-dumping
laws are also abused as protectionist policies. In this
regard, researchers have challenged the view that
anti-dumping measures restrict trade only when anti-
dumping duties are actually imposed. The argument
is that the threat or even the mere possibility of duties
can also affect import flows. In any case, from an
economic standpoint the question of interest is not
related to the legitimacy of anti-dumping petitions but
whether it is an effective trade restrictive tool.

Bown and Tovar (2011) find evidence that India relaxed
its commitment to reduce tariffs through use of anti-
dumping measures and safeguard protection in the
face of political economy pressures. The estimates
of their study show that the magnitude of import
reduction associated with Indian use of anti-dumping
measures is similar to the initial import expansion
associated with its tariff reform. Ganguli (2008) studies
empirically the effect of Indian anti-dumping cases on
trade flows from other countries. He finds that Indian
anti-dumping law is moderately effective in limiting

on food products were maintained for too long and
contributed to a distorted official inflation rate. More
generally, the implications of this research indicate that
export restrictions often harm the competitiveness
of countries more than tariff and non-tariff barriers
imposed by its trading partners.

Export restrictions can have a positive connotation
when they are used for redistributive purposes. For
example, Governments can use export restrictions
to internalize some of the benefits resulting from
currency devaluation. The policy instrument in this
case is an export tax which has redistribution as its
main objective. After a currency devaluation, exporters
whose goods are priced in foreign currency become
better off than exporters who earn in local currency.
Concerns over equity could lead to taxing exports more
after devaluation to compensate for lower government
revenue from other sources. Deese and Reeder (2008)
analyse this issue in relation to the Argentine imposition
of export taxes on soybean products. Following its
economic crisis in 2002, Argentina raised the export
taxes of soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil.
The paper argues that the Government of Argentina
used export taxes to capture some of the gains of
the real 60 per cent currency devaluation from 2001
to 2002, that otherwise would have accrued only to
Argentine soybean and soybean product exporters.
Because soybeans and soybean products are nearly
all consumed outside Argentina, foreign consumers
also pay a portion of the export tax.

A new form of policy intervention with restrictive effects
on exports is domestic sale requirements. This policy
requires a certain percentage of the production of a
good or service to be sold in the domestic market.
Only the remaining production can be exported.
Devadoss (2009) analyses the Indonesian experience
with domestic sale requirements on crude oil. This
policy is utilized in addition to subsidizing domestic
sales so as to benefit consumers with lower prices.
Specifically, oil-producing firms are required to sell
25 per cent of their output to domestic buyers and
export the remaining oil to overseas markets. In
addition, Indonesia sets the fuel price well below
the market price and allocates funds in its national
budget to subsidize sales of petroleum products at
the lower price. This study analyses the effects of
these two policies on prices, quantities and welfare
and compares those effects to those of an export
quota. The results show that the combined effect of
the domestic sale requirements and subsidy policies

III. Non-tariff measures: review of empirical evidence from case studies 43

countries. He argues that the adoption by a developing
country of an anti-dumping law has implications for
the endogenous formation of its trade policy. The
paper finds evidence consistent with the theory of
endogenous trade policy formation in the context of
an anti-dumping law. On average, larger industries
that face substantial import competition are more likely
to pursue an anti-dumping investigation and receive
protection from imports. This study also finds that,
on average, industries that face slower output growth
are more likely to pursue an investigation and receive
protection. The same is true for industries that are
potentially more susceptible to cyclical dumping due
to greater capital investment expenditures. The author
also provides evidence that changing macroeconomic
conditions – e.g. exchange rate and GDP shocks –
also affect the use of anti-dumping measures. More
generally, this study illustrates the flexibility of the
use of this particular policy by protection-seeking
industries and their Governments, as well as the lack
of discipline that the Anti-Dumping Agreement may
have when attempting to limit anti-dumping use in

import competition to domestic traders. As a matter
of fact, in the first three years after a case is filed,
imports from subject countries fall by as much as 29
per cent. Non-subject countries, however, manage
to mitigate some of this impact by increasing their
trade flows to India by about 11 per cent in the two
years after a case is filed and hence trade diversion
occurs. Despite that, overall imports are observed
to fall in response to Indian anti-dumping legislation.
Vandenbussche and Zanardi (2010) provide evidence
that active “new users” of anti-dumping measures –
most of which are developing countries – experience
significant reductions in import volumes beyond
the specific narrow sectors targeted (which can be
considered a “chilling” or “spillover” effect on trade
more generally), largely offsetting the trade-increasing
effects of Uruguay Round liberalization.

Another important question related to anti-dumping
measures is the relation with traditional trade policy.
Bown (2008) exploits a cross-country sample of
newly available, relatively disaggregated data as a first
attempt to examine empirically the determinants of
industrial use of anti-dumping measures in developing

Lack of regulatory transparency is a major and recurrent obstacle, both for policymakers
negotiating trade agreements and for businesses seeking to trade internationally. The
transparency of the regulatory framework not only facilitates cross-border transactions, but
also helps to identify and address obstacles to trade. In addition, transparency is essential
to check against subtle forms of protectionism. Transparency is also important for a non-
discriminating business environment. When transparency is lacking, there is an additional
cost involved in obtaining information. Fixed costs associated with obtaining the relevant
information are often higher for foreign firms than for domestic firms, thus making NTMs de
facto discriminatory. In addition, small and medium-sized enterprises have less capacity to
absorb these information costs and thus will be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis more established
international companies.

In addition to the transparency related to the NTM per se, there can be compliance costs
attributable to a lack of transparency as to how regulations are interpreted and implemented.
Given uncertainties as to how regulations will be enforced, assessment of conformity
can be more difficult and expensive. In this regard customs, technical and procedural
capabilities are often an issue, as well as outright corruption in the implementation of
measures. Transparency in the implementation of regulations is a key problem, particularly
in developing countries.

Transparency can be improved with the established multilateral notification process.
However, these notification mechanisms are not without cost and Governments may be
reluctant to bear the costs involved. In addition, although there are transparency provisions
in many agreements (e.g., notification of SPS and TBT measures to WTO), many are not
enforced properly, some for the very reasons that impose additional burdens on members.
Moreover, domestic regulators are often unaware of such international requirements. A more
strict enforcement of transparency disciplines, paired with efforts to streamline NTMs and
trade facilitation initiatives, can play a role in increasing transparency. The proliferation of
regional trade agreements may also contribute to improving transparency. Capacity-building
in developing countries in the context of regional trade agreements can help to increase
transparency and reduce problems associated with NTMs (e.g. through assistance with
inspection legislation, setting up inspection systems, equivalence and technical assistance
for risk assessments). In addition, regional institutions can provide a vehicle for the increased
involvement of participating national economic and trade agencies in the formation of rules
and also a forum for meetings between national regulators (which improves communication
on measures and confidence in their application).




Transparency in rules and regulations is not only
related to information costs. There are several
additional important reasons why transparency is an
important prerequisite for tackling NTMs. One reason
is related to the possible protectionist intent of NTMs.
As Bhagwati (1988) remarked, exposing protectionist
policies to daylight and the scrutiny of trading partners
would result in more cooperative, less protectionist
policies. Another reason is that, whereas some NTMs
have a protectionist purpose, others address societal
concerns which are largely the same everywhere,
albeit to different degrees. Publicly disclosing NTM
information encourages latecomers to the regulation-
making process to adopt measures patterned after
existing ones, thus reducing the bureaucratic and
political burden of designing regulations, improving
design and promoting natural harmonization as
opposed to fragmentation. Finally, transparency in
NTMs involves more than simply having information on
measures or notifications readily available. It requires
knowledge and analysis of how international trade in
general and companies in particular are affected by
these measures. Policymakers often ask for aggregate
assessments on the importance of a particular type of
measure and its impact. As presented in section II,
economic analysis can play a useful role in providing
policymakers with a better understanding of the
impact of NTMs.

A. World Trade Organization

Notifications by member States to the WTO
secretariat can increase the transparency of NTMs,
as they represent an official and important source of
information. However, the notification mechanism is
far from satisfactory and needs to be improved. An
in-depth analysis of the performance of the WTO
notification system can be found in Bacchetta,
Richtering and Santana (2012), on which this section

WTO involvement in NTMs goes back largely to the
1964-67 Kennedy Round, which initiated the first
system of “reverse notification” of NTMs. Under
reverse notification, one contracting party would notify
the GATT secretariat of the measures its exporters
faced in the market of another contracting party. The
notification system was reinforced by the Tokyo Round
“Understanding regarding Notification, Consultation,

Dispute Settlement and Surveillance”, adopted in
1979. The understanding invited contracting parties to
notify “to the maximum extent possible” measures that
could affect GATT. The objectives of the notification
system were clarified in notes circulated by the GATT
secretariat in 1984 and 1985 as follows:

x Assist in the surveillance of developments in
the trading system

x Meet obligations under plurilateral (Tokyo
Round) agreements

x Demonstrate contracting-party compliance
with GATT obligations.

The secretariat further recommended more
regular and complete notifications by contracting
parties, expanded use of reverse notifications and
independent information collection by the secretariat.
A negotiating group was formed in 1987 to improve
the notifications system based on the preparatory
work of the secretariat and the 1987–94 Uruguay
Round created a surveillance body to which reverse
notifications could be sent. The Uruguay Round
Ministerial Decision on Notification Procedures further
restated the commitment of member States to the
notification of measures and established a central
registry of notifications in the WTO secretariat. It also
established the basis for a review of the notification
system, which by then had grown to cover over 200
separate notification requirements.

The system currently covers 24 areas of measures,
defined relatively broadly and with fairly extensive
coverage including agriculture (special safeguards,
tariff quotas, export restrictions, domestic support
and export subsidies) and preferential agreements.

As discussed by Bacchetta, Richtering and Santana
(2012), compliance is difficult to measure since there
is no clearly defined benchmark. However one can
get a rough idea of the extent of compliance by just
glancing at raw numbers.

Given the widespread use of SPS measures and TBTs,
the low number of notifying countries shown in figure
18 (40 to 50 for SPS measures, 60 to 70 for TBTs)
suggests substantial non-compliance. Instruments
that are now increasingly used, such as export
restrictions, are not notified at all (only one notification
in 2008). Moreover, the rising number of countries
notifying SPS measures and TBTs suggests some
improvement since the Marrakesh Agreement, but

IV. Transparency in non-tariff measures: reporting and monitoring 47

at a modest pace. By contrast, the sharp reduction
in the number of countries notifying export subsidies
may possibly be attributed, at least in part, to a general
slowdown in their use. The Chair of the General
Council of WTO took up the issue of low compliance
rates in a 2009 letter to all relevant committees, but
how to raise it remains a subject of discussion today.21

The issue of low compliance rates is essentially
one of incentives – what economists call “multiple
equilibria”. In a game where few countries comply
with their notification obligations, those few which do
look as though they are the only ones using NTMs, a
sort of self-indictment. Thus, low compliance across
member States generates individual incentives for
non-compliance. By contrast, in a game where all

21 The technical regulations and conformity assessment
procedures for SPS and TBT notifications are similar. New
or changed requirements must be notified, as well as
measures not based on international standards and cases
where no international standards exist. Thus far, more than
100 members have submitted at least one SPS or TBT
notification to WTO. The share of notifications by developing
countries has been increasing and amounted to about 70
per cent of the total in 2009 – 10 years earlier their share
was 20–30 per cent.

countries comply, non-notification is less likely to be
interpreted as non-imposition of measures, but rather
as non-compliance with notification rules, which is the
correct interpretation. In that case, compliance has a
positive pay-off. Thus, low compliance is a systemic
issue that can be tackled only through improved
cooperation and, probably, stronger discipline.

Beyond low compliance rates, the WTO notification
system suffers from a number of weaknesses which
prevent it from playing the role that it could play as
the authoritative source of information on trade-
relevant regulations imposed by member States. First,
notification requirements may impose weak discipline
in terms of how measures are notified; for instance,
many TBT measures are notified without a precise
description of the specific products they apply to.
Use of the HS system of product classification (which
is widely used in the reporting of trade statistics and
in some types of measures, such as anti-dumping)
would greatly improve the usefulness of notifications.
Even the types of measure are sometimes described
in loose terms, making it difficult to assess how
restrictive the measures are or how much of a burden
they may imply for traders. Notifications are also not
always precise about the date on which measures are










SPS TBT Non-automatic

restrictions &



2006 2007 2008 2009

Figure 18. Number of notifying countries by type of measure (selected types)

Source: adapted from Bacchetta, Richtering and Santana (2012), table A2.


put in place. Many NTMs are grounded in laws that go
back very far in time – some to the 1920s – but involve
new provisions in the form of revisions which change
their effects.

Timewise, variation in the applicability of measures
is important for the econometric estimation of
their effects on trade flows and it is generally not
available on a reliable basis. Finally, the classification
of measures used by WTO is not identical to, and
far less comprehensive than, that used by UNCTAD
and some other international organizations since
2010. This makes it difficult to compare and verify
WTO notifications with data collected or gathered
elsewhere. UNCTAD and WTO are collaborating to
harmonize the two classification systems and the
adoption of a common classification of measures will
facilitate the establishment of a common, authoritative
database on NTMs.

B. Private sector surveys

Information on rules and regulations affecting trade are
essential for facilitating international trade. The lack of
information on regulatory regimes makes it particularly
difficult for firms seeking to export their product to
make efficient business decisions. Available survey
data at firm level suggest that a primary concern of
the private sector, particularly of small and medium-
sized enterprises, is the lack of, or poor accessibility
to, information related to NTMs.

Besides highlighting the need for more information,
private sector surveys can also act as a tool to increase

transparency. Well-designed surveys can provide
information on what types of NTM are most relevant
for firms and which are most lacking in transparency. In
addition, surveys at firm level may produce information
for monitoring progress in regional integration and
for drawing up priorities in the gradual reduction of
barriers within an intrabloc trade.

An example of information that can be generated by
surveys is provided in UNCTAD (2010) and reported
in table 3. Data are based on a series of company-
level surveys of 300 to 400 interviews, which were
conducted by ITC and UNCTAD in several developing
countries to identify measures that exporting
companies perceive as barriers.

These results highlight the importance of technical
regulations, an item of growing importance in the
array of NTMs around the world. Compliance with
technical regulations and the associated conformity
assessment procedures are reported as by far the
principal barriers to trade, with almost three quarters
of respondents indicating this as their primary
concern. These measures include, among others,
regulations related to product characteristics or the
related production process. For exporters, it can be
challenging to comply with these regulations, as they
might be very complex and often vary significantly
across destinations. Other measures are reported to
be far less important; the exceptions are PSIs and
other administrative formalities which are an important
concern for some of the exporters surveyed, especially
in Tunisia and Uganda.

As survey data on NTMs is often based on respondent
perceptions rather than hard facts, it should be
interpreted very cautiously. It may be that surveys,

Table 3. NTMs flagged by exporters as principal barriers to trade (percentage)

NTM Group Chile Philippines Thailand Tunisia Uganda Simpleaverage

Technical regulations (SPS and TBT) 70.3 76.4 93.5 62.7 64.1 73.4

PSI and formalities 14.0 3.1 2.3 22.6 23.1 13.0

Licences and quantitative restrictions 6.1 0.4 2.2 0.5 0.3 1.9

Charges, taxes & para-tariff measures 1.2 2.7 0.2 4.7 7.4 3.2

Finance measures 2.1 0.6 0.1 4.2 0.2 1.4

Other 6.4 16.9 1.6 5.3 4.9 7.0

Total 100 100 100 100 100 100

Source: UNCTAD (2010).

IV. Transparency in non-tariff measures: reporting and monitoring 49

Similarly, figure 20 shows the amount of time spent
dealing with bureaucracy and red tape, another issue
often highlighted in surveys as a major impediment to
export. However, a better analysis of the data indicate
that an average of 20 man days spent in one year
dealing with administrative issues reported in private
sectors survey should not be a first-order impediment
as the average firm has about 100 employees.

Regardless of the actual effects of conformity
assessments enforced at the border or customs
administration procedures, these contradictory
results illustrate how survey data should be carefully
interpreted and if possible substantiated by official

Private sector surveys on NTMs face additional
issues as firms often do not have much knowledge
of underlying regulations. Firms generally list problems
associated with cross-border business transactions,
regardless of whether these problems are related
to hard rules and regulations. In many cases the
problems faced by the companies surveyed do not
involve destination markets but originate from weak
customs and administrative procedures, a lack of local
facilities and infrastructure within their own country.

for example, reveal more about differences in export
competencies among companies than about the NTM
per se. In addition, companies may be reluctant to
provide information on NTMs in response to a survey
if they believe that their knowledge of NTMs or their
ability to handle them confers a competitive advantage
(asymmetric information).

In practice, private sector surveys need to be properly
analysed as their misinterpretation may result in
incomplete or incorrect information. To provide an
example, private sector surveys are often used to
identify problems related to enforcement, rather
than to the NTMs themselves. In this regard, in a
series of surveys conducted in the Middle East and
North Africa region by the World Bank, a large share
of exporting companies complained about issues
related to conformity assessments at customs as a
major trade impediment, in particular with respect
to border inspections. However, the complaints
that border inspections cause problems to trade
are not substantiated by the response of importing
companies interviewed in the same set of surveys.
These companies reported that inspection rates are
in most cases reasonable. Only Egypt and Tunisia are
reported to apply inspection rates higher than 20 per
cent and only for some sensitive products (figure 19).














Figure 19. Inspection rates reported by the private sector by country (percentage of lowest and highest rates reported)

Source: adapted from Hoekman and Zarrouk (2009).


trade data and was thus a big step forward compared
to the WTO notification system which, as already
discussed, has suffered from imprecise descriptions
of the products affected by the measures notified.

However, TRAINS coverage was incomplete in terms of
countries, as fewer than 100 countries were covered.
It was also incomplete in terms of measures, with a
heavy emphasis on old-style “command-and-control”
NTMs, such as quotas and prohibitions, and far less
comprehensive coverage of new-style regulations
such as SPS measures and TBTs. In addition, data
collection was not sustained across time and resulted
from a one-time effort, with most of the data collected
between 1999 and 2001.

Leaving aside its limitations, the TRAINS database
has been used extensively by researchers and has
generated important statistical information on the
incidence of NTMs and their severity. However, with
no follow-up in the data collection and given the
limitations of the initial exercise, empirical analysis of
NTMs has been achieving diminishing returns.

Over the last few years, under the aegis of UNCTAD, a
new data collection effort has been undertaken, with a
pilot phase successfully concluded in 2010. This effort
started with a new and more detailed classification
incorporating new forms of NTM. Besides generating
new data and interest for a new effort to replenish the

C. Official data collection

To increase the availability of information on NTMs,
UNCTAD, ITC, the African Development Bank and the
World Bank, have been working together to revitalize
the collection and improve the organization of data
on NTMs. In addition, several regional economic
communities in Africa have started to put in place
monitoring schemes for NTMs affecting intrabloc
trade. Moreover, some countries have implemented
autonomous projects to provide NTM information
so as to facilitate both imports and exports. These
initiatives, if properly coordinated, have the potential to
improve the picture drastically in terms of transparency
in NTMs in the next few years.

1. Global initiatives

Until recently, the authoritative source of statistical
information on NTMs was the TRAINS database
maintained by UNCTAD. A major achievement at
the time, TRAINS put together information on NTMs
coded according to a precise NTM nomenclature over
the HS six-digit classification system. The pairing of
the NTM nomenclature with the HS classification made
it possible to match NTM data easily with tariff and















Figure 20. Man days spent per year resolving problems with customs and tax administrations

Source: adapted from Hoekman and Zarrouk (2009).

IV. Transparency in non-tariff measures: reporting and monitoring 51

issue of capabilities was approached by identifying
“pivot” countries and local consultants to organize
and train other consultants in the region.

Another advantage of the approach was to raise the
visibility of the data collection/transparency issue with
national authorities in the countries where data was
being collected. In virtually all cases, data collection
was followed by a validation workshop with all
government agencies involved, in order to ensure that
no important items had been missed and that there
was no major misunderstanding. This last step was
important not just in terms of data accuracy, but also
to establish the legitimacy of the process, in spite of
the fact that it had been initiated and conducted by
non-government bodies – a useful first step in the
dialogue between government authorities and civil
society on the issue of NTMs.

However, coverage remains very incomplete. All
things considered, the various data collection efforts
have produced data for about 30 countries. Coverage
is shown in table 4.

In this regard, the “Transparency in trade” initiative,
launched in July 2011, is an attempt to expand and put
trade data collection, publication and dissemination
on a sound footing by providing a clear framework for
collaboration between UNCTAD, the World Bank, ITC
and the African Development Bank.

The initiative provides, inter alia, data collection on
NTMs, service trade and regulations, anti-dumping
and tariffs and trade data. It is strongly innovative
in that it emphasizes as one of its core principles
universal free access to the data, as opposed to the
many restrictions and fees that have long plagued
trade data publication, with adverse consequences
particularly for researchers, in particular younger
ones and those in developing countries who do not
have access to the research funds that can finance
subscriptions to expensive databases.

2. Regional initiatives

There are also many regional initiatives to improve
transparency in NTMs. In this section, we will take
stock of progress in transparency efforts in two
selected regions where such efforts are underway:
ASEAN and East Africa.

TRAINS database, the pilot phase generated useful
lessons on the process itself. Even though some
countries had shown the capability to organize the
data collection themselves, it was clear that relying
on countries was bound to encounter the same basic
incentive problem that WTO notifications have been
encountering: countries that carry out data collection
properly look like they are intensive users of NTMs
and therefore potentially “bad players” in the world
trading system, whereas countries that underreport
look like they are “good players”. While data collection
undertaken for statistical purposes under the auspices
of UNCTAD has less of a “surveillance” overtone than
in the case of notifications to WTO, the incentive
problem is basically the same. Essentially, countries do
not have many incentives for disclosing information on
the regulatory regimes they apply to imports and are
more interested in better understanding the regulatory
regimes of their trading partners. The collection of data
in a global or regional manner therefore often results
in much less resistance. In addition to the incentive
problem, many countries simply do not have the
capacity to do the data collection themselves, at least
without the support of external technical assistance.

Regional collection of NTM data coordinated by
regional economic communities is potentially a
powerful way of overcoming incentives and technical
problems. However, in this case the technical and
organizational capabilities of those communities
vary substantially and their capacity to organize the
collection of data also varies for particular reasons that
do not necessarily correlate with overall capabilities.
For instance, ALADI has successfully coordinated
NTM data collection for Latin American countries in
collaboration with UNCTAD. ASEAN, with informal
assistance from the World Bank and UNCTAD, is
currently setting up an agenda for coordinating the
various independent national data collection efforts
occurring in the region. Some of the regional initiatives
are reviewed in more detail in the following section;
suffice it to say that relying on the regional economic
communities for data collection, while providing a
natural route toward sustainable data collection, is
likely also to require substantial technical assistance.

In parallel and in coordination with the activities
listed above, the World Bank initiated NTM data
collection projects in several countries. Data collection
was subcontracted to local consultants, including
academics, think tanks and consulting firms. The


does not conform to the UNCTAD classification and
measures are categorized as follows:

x Specific measures on agricultural products
(including SPS issues and single-channel

x Standards requirements
x Visa requirements (travel documents and work


x Transport and transit regulations (infrastructure,
charges, tolls, permits)

x Customs procedures and documentation
x Border management and services
x Import and export permits and licensing


x Other NTMs falling under government
participation in trade, such as foreign exchange
controls, creation of monopolies, import
licensing and quantitative restrictions.

The studies also looked at implementation and
compliance costs not necessarily related to NTMs,
classifying them as follows:

The ASEAN approach to streamlining NTMs and
improving transparency in these policies was initiated
in November 2007. At that time ASEAN leaders
committed to accelerating their efforts toward regional
economic integration by adopting a well-defined set of
goals and a strategic schedule and timetable of removal
and harmonization of NTMs and other measures
(i.e. the ASEAN economic community blueprint
(AEC)). The ASEAN secretariat was given the task of
monitoring compliance, based on a set of “statistical
indicators to assess the progress of implementation
of each element of the AEC”, supported by efforts to
harmonize national statistics and improve data quality.
In February 2010, the secretariat issued a “scorecard”
that covered the first two years of the implementation
of the blueprint (2008 and 2009). In this area, the
ASEAN secretariat benefited from technical assistance
from the World Bank and IFC for strengthening its
statistical capabilities and for using “Doing business”
indicators as measures of trade facilitation.

East African efforts to streamline NTMs also go back
to 2007. At that time, using support from the Regional
Trade Facilitation Programme, the secretariat of the
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA) commissioned a number of studies on
NTMs affecting intrabloc trade, as reported by the
private sector. The classification used for such studies

Table 4. NTM data collection (country coverage)

Latin America
and the Caribbean


Europe and
Central Asia

Middle East
and North



East-Asia and
the Pacific



Argentina European Union Egypt Kenya Bangladesh Japan

Plurinational State of Lebanon Mauritius Philippines

Brazil Morocco Uganda Indonesia

Chile Tunisia Senegal Cambodia

Colombia Namibia Lao People's Democratic Republic

Ecuador Madagascar Hong Kong, China

Mexico South Africa

Paraguay United Republic of Tanzania



Bolivarian Rep. of

In collection China

Source: UNCTAD / World Bank WITS database.

IV. Transparency in non-tariff measures: reporting and monitoring 53

and three ad hoc classes (A, B and C) depending on
the level of political and economic complexity and the
impact on intra-EAC trade:22

x Category A: low political and economic
complexity, low impact on EAC trade,
immediate action required, consensus reached
at the EAC Council.

x Category B: low political and economic
complexity, high impact on EAC trade, short-
term (1-6 months), EAC Council consensus but
no agreement on implementation.

x Category C: high political and economic
complexity, high impact on EAC trade, medium-
term (6-12 months), no political consensus at
the EAC Council.

The inventory of measures provides a brief description
of each measure and indicates which member States
are affected, which government agency, department
or ministry is at the source of the measure in the
country imposing it and a subjective assessment of its
impact on business.

Clearly, these regional efforts need to be better
integrated into the multilateral data collection effort
and coordinated through the “Transparency in trade”
initiative. This will avoid the risk that multilateral and
regional efforts run along parallel lines, with duplication
of effort and possibly inconsistent classification
of measures. Adoption of similar data collection
procedures and a common NTM classification is the

3. Country-level initiatives

A number of countries have unilaterally adopted
transparency initiatives aimed at providing information
related to NTMs. For example, rules and regulations
affecting European Union imports are accessible
through the Export Helpdesk. This is an online
service, provided by the European Commission, to
facilitate market access, in particular for developing
countries, to the European Union. Although it is
mainly aimed at exporters, it provides comprehensive
and up-to-date information on European Union rules

22 This description is based on Kirk (2010).

x Official payments, such as charges incurred
on import quality inspections and certification

x General expenses, such as staff costs and
storage costs while awaiting verification or
clearance of cargo at border crossings.

x Non-official payments paid to Customs officials,
quality inspection officials, police officers at
road blocks/border crossings, immigration
officials, or officials at weighbridges.

x Payments to officials in charge of licensing
and registration functions to shorten or ignore
cumbersome processes.

x Lost business opportunities arising from
application of discriminatory tax rates and
other import procedures, such as application
of discriminatory COMESA tariffs by one
partner State to a product originating from
other States, application of a higher domestic
tax on imports than on equivalent domestically
produced goods, application of discriminatory
procedures on imports.

x Wasted products, especially for perishable
goods that may go to waste due to a full
inspection instead of a sample inspection,
or during weighing of axle load/gross vehicle
weight specifications.

x Time lost due to application of procedures that
are unjustified or non-transparent.

The studies were discussed at the first meeting of the
COMESA national enquiry points on non-tariff barriers
held in September 2007 in Blantyre and in a workshop
in Nairobi in June 2007. In November 2007, at its
twenty-fourth meeting, the Council of Ministers asked
the COMESA secretariat to undertake an impact
assessment of prevailing NTMs in the region.

The East Africa Community (EAC) secretariat has
also been active in the area, with a series of studies
identifying NTMs based on surveys undertaken by
private sector advocacy groups (see Kirk 2010). One
result of this effort was the adoption, in January 2009,
of the EAC time-bound programme for elimination of
identified non-tariff barriers, which records measures
reported by the private sector in each member State.
This programme is based on a double classification
of NTMs, using both the WTO notification categories


system, such that if a measure was not posted on
INSW, there was no guarantee from customs that
it would be enforced consistently. This is a very
interesting instance of a system that overcomes the
basic incentive problem of transparency – namely,
that agencies issuing regulations have no incentive to
expose themselves to criticism through openness.

Mauritius recently drew up an exhaustive inventory of
NTMs with assistance from an academic team from
the University of Mauritius and technical assistance
and financing from the World Bank and UNCTAD. The
inventory, which is being merged with the customs
databases on measures enforceable at the border,
has served as a basis for policy discussions on how to
improve the process of streamlining NTMs.

Not all national initiatives have been successful.
For example, a long-standing effort to improve
regulatory transparency in Egypt, financed by the
United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) through the Errada project, has produced an
extensive inventory of NTMs but has nevertheless not
succeeded in getting any political traction or attention.
The data collection procedure has now stalled.

and regulations affecting international trade. The
European Commission has agreed to provide relevant
information from the Export Helpdesk to UNCTAD to
feed its global NTM database.

In Indonesia, the Government has worked to improve
transparency in NTMs by coordinating work on
regulatory transparency with the Indonesian National
Single Window (INSW). The INSW authority makes
information on NTMs available online for importers
and exporters, integrating the flows of data-
processing systems in different agencies into a single
portal. The system allows users to simultaneously
submit applications for export or import clearance to
different agencies. To make the process transparent,
the authority set up an online database to pool
information from different agencies on qualifications
for obtaining customs clearance for different products
and on NTMs. As part of their mandate to integrate
information for processing trade clearance, the agency
put together a database (LARTAS) on documentation
requirements for trade clearance. One aspect of INSW
is that it has quasi-legal authority in the sense that
border enforcement of NTMs was made conditional
on participation by the issuing agency in the INSW

Although some forms of NTMs are left to the discretion of countries and are not subject
to international scrutiny or disciplines, many forms of NTMs, especially SPS measures
and TBTs, are disciplined in international forums such as WTO and regional and bilateral
agreements. This section presents an overview of the existing regulatory frameworks
of NTMs, especially in regard to SPS standards and TBTs. The discussion covers WTO
disciplines on the matter and NTM disciplines within regional and bilateral agreements.
The section highlights some of the issues related to standard harmonization and mutual

A. World Trade Organization disciplines on non-tariff measures:
the case of technical barriers to trade and sanitary and
phytosanitary measures

The Uruguay Round Agreements recognized that disciplines had to be imposed not only
on tariffs but also on diverse NTMs, subsidies and domestic support for agriculture and
manufacturing. In practice, the WTO agreements allow countries to achieve legitimate
objectives through the use of NTMs, but in the case of technical regulatory measures, as
a general rule, they should not be implemented in such a way as to pose unnecessary
obstacles to trade. In other words, the WTO disciplines regarding technical NTMs such as
TBTs and SPS measures are largely meant to prohibit “regulatory protectionism”.

These disciplines are built around three principles: non-discrimination, transparency
and proportionality. The WTO agreements dealing with NTMs include the Agreement on
Technical Barriers to Trade, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Measures, the Agreement on Article VII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades 1994
(concerning customs valuation) and a number of rules on import licensing procedures.23 WTO
agreements also include measures related to trade defence (anti-dumping, countervailing
measures and safeguards).

These rules have developed as a result of multilateral rounds of negotiations (in particular
the Tokyo Round) and GATT jurisprudence on national treatment provisions (Article III.4)
and general exceptions (Article XX). The Uruguay Round expanded the range of measures
covered by GATT/WTO disciplines, including, for instance, SPS measures on agricultural

23 This section and the next draw on Cadot, Maliszewska and Saez (2011).
24 Although trade in services is outside the scope of this report, The General Agreement on Trade
in Services (GATS) article VI is also an important agreement in terms of the disciplines imposed on
domestic regulations.



The SPS and TBT agreements have particularly
important implications in terms of trade. Although,
they recognize the right of member States to adopt
regulations that potentially affect international trade,
the agreements impose three types of discipline on
those regulations:

x On the process of adoption of the measures
and on their implementation

x On their proportionality to the objective sought
x On their necessity.

As for the first discipline, concerning the process of
elaboration and adoption of measures, in addition to
the transparency requirements which were discussed
in section IV, measures must be designed (de jure) and
implemented (de facto) in a non-discriminatory way.
This means that they should be “fair” in the sense of
not providing advantages to national producers of
similar products or altering competitive opportunities,
even incidentally.

In the case of SPS measures, for instance, the first
discipline means that measures should be based on
scientific evidence (article 5.2). When the scientific
evidence is uncertain, article 5.7 allows limited and
temporary use of the precautionary principle, subject
to disciplines regarding the pursuit of additional
evidence and a reasonable timeline for final decision:

“In cases where relevant scientific evidence is
insufficient, a Member may provisionally adopt
sanitary or phytosanitary measures on the basis
of available pertinent information, including that
from the relevant international organizations
as well as from sanitary or phytosanitary
measures applied by other Members. In such
circumstances, Members shall seek to obtain
the additional information necessary for a more
objective assessment of risk and review the
sanitary or phytosanitary measure accordingly
within a reasonable period of time.”25

The second discipline concerns the “proportionality” of
the measures, i.e. that the instrument chosen should
be the least restrictive of trade among available and
feasible instruments. This is in essence an efficiency

25 http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/sps_e/spsagr_e.

Finally, the third discipline concerns the “necessity” of
the measures, which should be needed to achieve a
legitimate policy objective. The necessity test implies
that the burden of proof – that a given measure is
needed and that no less trade-inhibiting measure
is appropriate – rests on the country imposing the

Taken in a strict sense, the combination of the second
and third disciplines should be verified through a
complete cost-benefit analysis establishing that (a)
the benefits of a measure outweigh its costs, both
internally and for other WTO members and (b) in the
set of feasible measures, the one under consideration
minimizes costs subject to the constraint that it
satisfies a non-trade objective.

As a rule of thumb, WTO considers that there is a
presumption that regulations based on international
standards are cost-minimizing. Underlying this
principle is the intention that the adoption of
international standards should minimize the market-
fragmenting effect of NTMs and that compliance with
international standards somehow limits the scope
for regulatory capture by domestic special interests.
Countries adopting regulations more stringent than
international standards must justify their choice, based
on a risk assessment. Measures deemed inconsistent
with TBT or SPS obligations must be justified under
general exception rules.

The necessity test is central to these WTO rules.26

However, it should not be construed as restricting
the right of members to regulate the management of
public goods, even if the consequence is to restrict
trade. In a number of disputes, the WTO Panel
found that it behoved members to decide on policy
objectives they wished to pursue and on the levels at
which they wished to pursue them. For example, the
WTO Appellate Body states:

“…does not mean, or imply, that the ability of
any WTO Member to take measures to control
air pollution or, more generally, to protect the
environment, is at issue. That would be to
ignore the fact that Article XX of the General

26 For instance, it is explicitly stated in GATT articles
XI, XIV, XX; GATS articles VI and XII and the annex on
telecommunications; articles 2.2 and 2.5 of the TBT
Agreement; articles 2.2 and 5.6 of the SPS Agreement;
articles 3.2, 8.1 and 27.2 of the Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights; and article 23.2 of
the Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO, 2003).

V. Regulatory frameworks for non-tariff measures 57

Agreement contains provisions designed to
permit important state interests – including
the protection of human health, as well as the
conservation of exhaustible natural resources –
to find expression. The provisions of Article XX
were not changed as a result of the Uruguay
Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
Indeed, in the preamble to the WTO Agreement
and in the Decision on Trade and Environment,
there is specific acknowledgement to be found
about the importance of coordinating policies
on trade and the environment. WTO Members
have a large measure of autonomy to determine
their own policies on the environment (including
its relationship with trade), their environmental
objectives and the environmental legislation
they enact and implement. So far as concerns
the WTO, that autonomy is circumscribed only
by the need to respect the requirements of
the General Agreement and the other covered

The necessity test should also be construed as an
obligation to search for the cost-minimizing instrument,
as stated quite crisply by the panel in United States –
section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930:

“It was clear to the Panel that a contracting
party cannot justify a measure inconsistent with
another GATT provision as “necessary” in terms
of Article XX(d) if an alternative measure which
it could reasonably be expected to employ
and which is not inconsistent with other GATT
provisions is available to it. By the same token,
in cases where a measure consistent with other
GATT provisions is not reasonably available, a
contracting party is bound to use, among the
measures reasonably available to it, that which
entails the least degree of inconsistency with
other GATT provisions.”28

In practice, in order to assess whether members should
adopt an alternative measure consistent with WTO,
instead of the one being challenged, three conditions
must be met: (a) the alternative is economically and
technically feasible; (b) it would achieve the same

27 United States – Standards for Reformulated and
Conventional Gasoline, Appellate Body report, WT/DS/2/
AB/R, page 28.
28 Report by the Panel, L/6439 - 36S/345, paragraph 5.26.

objectives; and (c) it is less restrictive of trade. In case
any of these conditions is not met, the member should
not be required to resort to the alternative measure.

Finally, if a country believes that another WTO
member is not satisfying its obligations under the
WTO agreements, a number of sequential steps are
generally taken:

x Informal bilateral contacts to try to remedy the

x Diplomatic intervention (a complaint lodged
through diplomatic channels)

x Multilateral representation (e.g. raising the issue
in the WTO TBT or SPS Committees)

x High level political intervention (e.g., at the
head of State level)

x Use of WTO dispute settlement proceedings.

In addition to these measures, steps may be taken
through avenues provided in bilateral or regional trade

It appears that the WTO disciplines on NTMs
discussed above have struck a balance between the
need to leave members freedom to regulate public
goods as they wish while maintaining the integrity of
the multilateral trading system. This balance has been
achieved, both through the wording of the agreements
and the ensuing case law, by imposing high standards
on the process through which these measures are
adopted and by emphasizing the necessity test.

B. Regional and bilateral agreements
disciplining non-tariff measures

NTMs vary considerably across countries, both
in regard to rules and regulations and in regard
to assessment of their conformity and actual
enforcement. With the proliferation of regional and
bilateral trade agreements, the issue of streamlining
and harmonizing NTMs across trading partners has
become central to many trade agreements, especially
in regard to SPS measures and TBTs. However,
because countries typically have large numbers of
regulations on the books, streamlining them is a long
and complex process.


There are several ways in which regional trade
agreements can address issues related to NTMs.
First, the creation of supranational institutions, such
as the European Commission and the European
Court of Justice, can play a leading role in fostering
the elimination of discriminatory NTMs and in the
general streamlining and harmonization of regulations,
at least on intraregional trade. Second, as in the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the
agreement itself can serve as a political anchor for
reform-minded politicians with liberalizing agendas.
That is, if the free trade agreement enjoys the strong
backing of all stakeholders, it can be used as a
justification for NTM reforms even when some of them
hurt specific interests (e.g. the elimination of some
non-trade barriers benefiting domestic producers).
Third, as with ASEAN, regional institutions can provide
a useful forum for exchanging experiences, suggesting
directions for further moves and motivating reformers
by overcoming their isolation at home.

The experience of the European Union suggests
an especially powerful route to the streamlining of
product standards. Harmonizing standards across the
European Union to achieve a common market was
an almost impossible task as it would have required
the consensus of member States for all regulations.
Instead, the European Union resolved the issue with
a legal approach. When a German spirits importer
complained in 1979 to the European Court of Justice
that the German authorities were preventing him from
importing a French spirit called “cassis de Dijon”, the
Court responded with a landmark decision. It ruled
that a product – in that case a spirit – that had been
cleared for sale in one member State had no reason
not to be cleared, automatically, in any other member
State. In its ruling, the Court rejected the defence of
the Government of Germany that “mutual recognition”
(as the principle has come to be known) would lead
to a race to the bottom. In fact, it did not and the
European Commission has since enforced this
principle in a wide range of areas.

NAFTA contributed to providing political traction to an
agenda for streamlining NTMs in Mexico through a
different mechanism – by providing a political anchor.
NAFTA was important for Mexico in terms of securing
stable access to the United States market and had
high political visibility. In addition, the United States
had recently pursued a programme of privatization
and regulatory roll back initiated by the Reagan
administration. Moreover, because of the high stakes,

NAFTA provided a guarantee against reform reversal,
which was important for gathering support.

ASEAN did not provide such a strong political anchor.
However, it has consistently pursued an agenda of
streamlining NTMs, especially focused on eliminating
those most harmful to regional trade. In 1987, the
memorandum of understanding on standstill and roll
back of non-tariff barriers sought the elimination of
measures that were inconsistent with GATT and the
preferential reduction of others. The Agreement on
the Common Effective Preferential Tariff Scheme for
the ASEAN Free Trade Area called for the immediate
elimination of all quantitative restrictions and in 1997
the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council designated
priority areas for harmonization of product standards.
Since then, the AFTA Council and the ASEAN Council
of Ministers have repeatedly emphasized the need to
streamline NTMs and to avoid a substitution of non-
tariff barriers for tariffs as the latter are phased out.
Although the elimination of non-tariff barriers and the
harmonization of standards are still distant objectives,
ASEAN is relatively more advanced in the process
than many other free trade areas. More recently, the
“ASEAN scorecard” listed three broad objectives: (a)
the virtual elimination of tariffs on goods imported from
ASEAN member countries, (b) moves underway to
address non-tariff barriers (e.g. through harmonization
of standards, streamlining of customs procedures and
improvements in logistics) and (c) greater liberalization
in services and investment provisions. It has reported
substantial progress, with an estimated 73.6 per cent
implementation rate of the measures, activities and
sectoral agreements scheduled to be adopted during
the first two years.

Given their importance, NTMs are also part of most
bilateral trade negotiations of free trade areas,
especially in those where at least one party is a high-
income country. For example, preferential agreements
involving the European Union and the United States
often contain measures aimed at the reduction or
elimination of NTMs (Horn, Mavroidis and Sapir, 2009).
These agreements can be separated into two broad
types of commitments:

x Those going beyond the WTO, but building on
WTO commitments (“WTO+”), including e.g.
SPS and TBT commitments.

x Those covering areas not covered by the WTO
(“WTO-X”), including e.g. labour or environment

V. Regulatory frameworks for non-tariff measures 59

the parties. Standard harmonization and, even more,
mutual recognition of conformity assessment results
are much easier among countries with similar levels of
development. The second factor is the overall degree
of integration of the agreement. Deeper agreements,
such as customs unions and common markets, can
go more easily beyond WTO commitments. The
third factor is the presence of large high-income
countries as one of the parties to the agreement.
In general, agreements involving the United States
often include acceptance of partner technical
regulations as equivalent, alignment on international
standards and mutual recognition of conformity
assessment. Agreements involving the European
Union often rely on alignment with European Union
regulations, standards and conformity assessment
procedures, especially with close partners such as the
Mediterranean countries. For instance, article 51 of
the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement states that:

“The Parties shall cooperate in developing: (a)
the use of Community rules in standardization,
metrology, quality control and conformity
assessment; (b) the updating of Moroccan
laboratories, leading eventually to the
conclusion of mutual recognition agreements
for conformity assessment; (c) the bodies
responsible for intellectual, industrial and
commercial property and for standardization
and quality in Morocco.”

European Union trade agreements with more distant
countries like Chile, with which it does not have deep
integration agendas, contain less stringent clauses
on TBTs. For instance, article 18 of the European
Community-Chile Association Agreement states that:

“Cooperation between the Parties will seek to
promote efforts in (a) regulatory cooperation;
(b) compatibility of technical regulations on the
basis of international and European standards”.

In some other cases, the agreement may push for
convergence towards international standards. In this
regard, article 19 of the European Community-Mexico
free trade agreement merely states that the parties:

“…shall work towards: …(c) promoting the use
of international standards, technical regulations
and conformity assessment procedures on
the basis of international agreements; (d)
facilitating the adoption of their respective

Many United States and European Union bilateral free
trade agreements have WTO+ clauses. For instance,
all 14 European Union agreements reviewed include
TBT provisions, but those are enforceable in only five
of them (the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean
and Pacific States (CARIFORUM), Mexico, Chile and
the European Economic Area (EEA) and Turkey).
These commitments are typically deeper than in the
case of United States agreements, which only restate
the WTO obligations of preferential partners. Eight
European Union agreements include SPS provisions
and only three are legally enforceable (EEA, Chile
and CARIFORUM). As for the United States, 12
agreements include SPS provisions, but only two are
legally enforceable through dispute settlement (Israel
and NAFTA).

Lesser (2007) provides another review of bilateral
agreements involving NTMs covering 28 North-South
and South-South preferential trade agreements
signed by Chile, Mexico and Singapore. Most of the
agreements are based on transparency requirements
and mutual recognition of conformity assessment
results, an approach considered less costly than
harmonization. Members are for instance asked
to notify each other about the introduction of new
measures or the modification of existing ones. Most of
the agreements reviewed also call for the establishment
of joint bodies to monitor the implementation of TBT
provisions and facilitate cooperation. Most agreements
also include dispute settlement mechanisms for
disputes related to TBTs.

In terms of the depth of TBT commitments, few
preferential trade agreements go beyond the TBT
Agreement. However they often display WTO+
characteristics, using the term coined by Horn,
Mavroidis and Sapir (2009). The most far-reaching
involve mutual recognition of conformity assessment
procedures and bodies, meaning that parties
are required to justify non-equivalence and non-
recognition. A few blocs and sub-blocs (e.g. the
European Union and the more developed members of
ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)
have adopted mutual recognition arrangements for
conformity assessments in particular sectors, such
as telecommunications and electrical, electronic and
medical equipment.

In practice, agreements can have different degrees of
strength in relation to the elimination and harmonization
of NTMs. This strength depends essentially on three
key factors. The first is the level of development of


in free trade agreements. Transparency provisions are
also found in 30 agreements. Most of the agreements
with TBT provisions also include the establishment of
a monitoring committee or body for matters related to
standards and 24 had provisions for the resolution of
disputes between members.

Harmonization of technical regulations in the context of
North-South agreements is not free of risks regarding
their compatibility with the broader aim of multilateral
liberalization, as they can lead to specifications that
are overly complex or burdensome from the point of
view of many developing countries. As argued by Maur
and Shepherd (2011), different economic and social
conditions may call for different levels of “strictness”
of technical regulations. Indeed, Disdier, Fontagné
and Cadot (2012) show that North-South free trade
agreements with harmonization provisions contribute
to hub-and-spoke trade patterns. The reason is that
technical regulations aligned on northern ones raise
production costs and therefore can price the products
of southern partners out of other, southern markets
that are not in the same bloc. Disdier et al. find that a
gravity equation picks up this reinforcement of hub-
and-spoke trade patterns as a result of harmonization
in North-South free trade agreements. This suggests
that harmonization issues in North-South agreements
should be viewed strategically by southern
Governments, rather than as a technical issue.

South-South agreements have only recently taken
NTMs into consideration. For instance, article 6
of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Protocol on Trade calls for the elimination of
all existing forms of protectionist or overly restrictive
NTMs (non-tariff barriers) and for member States to
refrain from imposing new ones. While implementing
this article remains a major challenge, SADC Ministers
of Trade have identified 10 categories of particularly
trade-damaging non-tariff barriers for “immediate”
action: (a) cumbersome customs documentation
and procedures; (b) cumbersome import and export
licensing/permits; (c) import and export quotas; (d)
unnecessary import bans and prohibitions; (e) import
charges not falling within the definition of import duties;
(f) restrictive single-channel marketing; (g) prohibitive
transit charges; (h) complicated visa requirements;(i)
pre-shipment inspection; and (j) national food security

Although in some of these areas there has been
progress, most barriers are still in effect. In practice,
most of the tangible efforts have tended to focus on

standards, technical regulations and conformity
assessment procedures on the basis of
international requirements.”

Similar clauses towards international harmonization
can be found in other North-South agreements. For
instance, article 705 of the Thailand-Australia Free
Trade Agreement states that:

“The Parties shall, where appropriate,
endeavor to work towards harmonization
of their respective technical regulations,
taking into account relevant international
standards, recommendations and guidelines,
in accordance with their international rights and

However, there is a degree of difference in the scope
of harmonization. For example, in the case of the
Australia-Thailand agreement, chapter 7, to which
article 705 belongs, applies to “all goods traded
between the parties”, implying that goods not traded
bilaterally could potentially remain uncovered; whereas
no such scope limitation can be found in the clause
on harmonization in the European Community-Mexico
agreement. Therefore, if one accepts the idea that even
when the letter of the agreement does not prescribe
convergence on the Northern standard, de facto this
is what is likely to happen, the European Community-
Mexico harmonization clause can be taken as more
encompassing than the Thailand-Australia one, which
leaves regulations that are irrelevant to bilateral trade
outside the scope of the agreement. Similar limitations
can be found in e.g. article 7.2 of the United States-
CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central America)
Agreement and in article 7.1 of the United States-
Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

In a review of over 70 preferential trade agreements
covering several regions, levels of development
and depth of integration, Piermartini and Budetta
(2011) also find that harmonization is more frequent
than mutual recognition for technical regulations
(29 agreements against 15), but mutual recognition
of conformity assessment is the most frequent
approach (39 agreements) followed by harmonization
of conformity assessment procedures (25
agreements). Harmonization of technical regulations
is a characteristic of European Union agreements,
sometimes, as noted, implying adoption of the
European Union acquis communautaire by partners

V. Regulatory frameworks for non-tariff measures 61

However, like many other agreements, the COMESA
Treaty recognizes the right of member States to
impose trade-restricting regulations for health, safety
or environmental reasons.

In summary, even when treaties oblige member States
to remove rules and regulations, their actual removal
is often a long and difficult process. For example,
in the East African Community (EAC), practically all
the NTMs targeted for “immediate removal” shown
in table 5 are still in place. Experience from other
regional groupings, such as the European Union
and ASEAN, points to the importance of establishing
effective enforcement and compliance mechanisms.
However, establishing such mechanisms is difficult
and presupposes the existence of a strong political
drive for deep integration.

Implementing the EAC agenda on NTMs has proved
difficult for a variety of reasons besides the lack of
political traction. One important reason for poor
implementation is the lack of administrative capacity.
This is important, as the issues related to NTMs can
quickly become very technical. Recognizing this,
the EAC secretariat has tried to set up information/
monitoring mechanisms supported by capacity-
building and training and to favour the creation
of country-level structures such as monitoring
committees. This is a promising area of cooperation
between the Governments of member States and the
regional commissions in EAC and elsewhere and also
clearly an area where international support would have
a high payoff.

The approach adopted by the ASEAN secretariat
consisted of classifying NTMs into broad classes using
several criteria. NTMs were first classified on the basis
of WTO principles: transparency, non-discrimination,
science basis (for SPS measures) and proportionality/
necessity. The secretariat tried to strike a balance
between non-trade regulatory objectives, such as
revenue generation and protection of health and safety
of consumers, and trade costs measured through a
trade impact criterion. The criterion used a number
of indicators, including the number of private sector
complaints, the difference between domestic and
world prices, sectoral importance and trade value,
and was used to group NTMs into three categories:

x Red box: NTMs that impede trade in ASEAN
and which require immediate elimination.

improving the monitoring and reporting of non-tariff
barriers rather than their elimination. Monitoring has
taken two main forms:

x Audits of the implementation of the SADC
Protocol on Trade have been undertaken every
year since 2007. Their main focus has been
on progress in removing tariffs facing regional
trade, as per country commitments, but they
also review some NTBs, in particular those
relating to rules of origin.

x The SADC Trade Monitoring and Compliance
Mechanism (TMCM) was established in mid-
2008. This has two distinct elements: (a) an
online non-tariff barrier monitoring mechanism
which records non-tariff barriers reported by
firms and (b) the elimination and reduction of
barriers (both tariffs and non-tariff barriers)
following bilateral negotiation or outcomes from
the various dispute settlement mechanisms.

The publication of non-tariff barriers under the
auspices of the monitoring mechanism is a major step
forward. However, while the monitoring mechanism
is now well established, there are problems with it,
including misidentification of some of the barriers
reported and, most importantly, slow progress in
resolving the barriers once they have been notified.
Just half of the complaints received by SADC and 20
per cent received by COMESA have been resolved
under the tripartite monitoring mechanism. The main
reason is that there is no obligation for countries to
remove their barriers once notified by others. The
system relies purely on moral suasion.

Similarly, article 49 of the COMESA Treaty obliges
member States to remove all existing non-tariff barriers
to imports of goods originating from the other member
States. In addition, member States are expected
to refrain from imposing any further restrictions or
prohibitions, with the Treaty stating that:

“Except as may be provided for or permitted
by this Treaty, each of the Member States
undertakes to remove immediately upon entry
into force of this Treaty, all the then existing non-
tariff barriers to the import into that Member
State of goods originating in the other Member
States and thereafter refrain from imposing any
further restrictions or prohibitions.”


Table 5. Measures targeted for immediate removal by the East African Community

category Summary description Stated objective

Potential for
and discriminatory

scientific basis Alternative measure

II Non-recognition of EAC rules and
certificates of origin

Prevent trade
diversion under

High Verification missions Apply risk assessment

I Import bans (milk, day-old chicks, beef
and poultry)

Public health High Inconsistent between
imports and domestic

Mutual recognition within

VII Cumbersome procedures for registering
a business across borders

Statistics and
record keeping

Varies between

Not applicable Automatic business

II Multiple road blocks Prevent tax
evasion on
transit goods

High evidence of bribes None Document based controls
at borders

IV Charges levied on plant import permit
for Ugandan tea (Kenya)

? Yes None Abolish levy

IV Non-recognition of SPS certificates on
Ugandan tea (Kenya)

Public health Yes Lack of confidence in

Recognition of SPS
certificates within EAC

II Multiple weighbridges along the
Northern Corridor

Road safety High None Use risk assessment

IV Certificates of analysis required in spite
of UNBS quality certificate (Burundi and

Public health/

High Lack of confidence in

Mutual recognition within

II Requirement for bond and import
licence from Trade and Industry
Ministries prior to excise duty stamps
(United Republic of Tanzania)

Protection Yes None Remove requirement

II Discriminatory excise duty on BAT
cigarettes by United Republic of
Tanzania that do not have 75 per cent of
Tanzanian tobacco

Domestic content

Yes None Remove requirement

II Landing certificates for exports from
Kenya through Namanga issued by TRA
in Arusha rather than at the border

Administrative Yes None Abolish landing certificate

II Extra charges levied on Kenya
pharmaceutical exports by the United
Republic of Tanzania

Protection Yes None Abolish requirement

II Cotecna inspection required for imports
to the United Republic of Tanzania

Undervaluation Yes None Abolish requirement

II Road consignment note required from
transporters prior to packing of goods

? Yes None Abolish requirement

II Consignment values for Punchline Ltd

Concern over

Yes None Abolish requirement

II TRA refusal to recognize certificates
of origin issued by KRA on buses
manufactured at Namanga

Conformity with
the rules of origin

Yes None Recognize the EAC
Certificate of Origin

II Discriminatory charges on ad hoc
landing of aircraft in different EAC
member States

No None Abolition of discriminatory

II Inadequate escort mechanism Concern over tax

Yes against all transit


II Corruption along the Northern and
Central Corridors at roadblocks,
weighbridges, and borders

Yes None Increase transparency

Source: Adapted from Kirk (2010).

V. Regulatory frameworks for non-tariff measures 63

are not included in the ASEAN scheme. The reason is
that anti-dumping is covered by WTO rules, tariff quota
duties may be tariffied and prohibitions are usually
imposed on sensitive goods for national security,
religious or moral, health and safety, or environmental

On the compliance side, the ASEAN secretariat
clearly took into consideration that enforcement of
the rules might take place at different levels. Self-
compliance is highly likely where the net benefits
of the proposed arrangement are unequivocal for
the member, which would serve as the impetus to
implementation. Second- or third-party enforcement
will require bodies with clear mandates, rules that are
flexible yet stable and quality information but more
importantly, the political will of members to deliver on
their commitments. Nevertheless, formal mechanisms
and arrangements within ASEAN were considered
essential to institution-building as they improve on
informal practices and instil a sense of obligation into
the agreement by bringing countries under the same

In sum, regional experience in streamlining NTMs
suggests the following guiding principles:

x Partners should be consulted systematically
when new regulations are being considered.

x Harmonization should be limited to essential
health and safety standards, with details left to
national authorities to be set according to local

x Whenever international standards are available,
they should be preferred.

x Provisions on TBTs and SPS matters in
regional agreements should be made, as far as
possible, legally binding.

x Technical assistance and capacity-building
should be provided as early as possible for less
developed partners.

x Amber box: NTMs which could not be clearly
identified or classified as barriers.

x Green box: NTMs which could be justified,
including measures that have a scientific basis
and are applied to both domestic and imported

The categorization into boxes naturally led to a
prioritization in terms of streamlining. In addition,
the ASEAN secretariat called for eliminating first
the non-transparent and discriminatory measures
and then turning to those that were transparent but
discriminatory. NTMs deemed unnecessary would
be removed without being replaced with alternative
measures (e.g., automatic licensing). For NTMs with
protective objectives, a re-examination was suggested
in view of the commitment to promote intraregional
trade. In such a case, the replacement with tariffs
should also be set, initially at rates with an equivalent
impact to the NTM and gradually reduced in order
to be less discriminatory against imports. Moreover,
any measure that was less trade-distorting which
was replacing an existing NTM would need to take
into account the regulatory objectives of the original

The ASEAN secretariat identified the greatest positive
impact on trade as likely to come from removing the
following NTMs: administrative pricing, non-automatic
licensing, quotas, enterprise-specific restrictions and
pre-shipment inspection. These should be replaced
with tariffs, fiscal incentives, or risk management with
post-entry audit systems at customs. NTMs that are
transparent but discriminate between imports may
be considered next although their immediate removal
would also yield trade benefits (e.g., prohibitions on
“non-sensitive” goods and a single channel for imports).
The ASEAN secretariat also sought to remove NTMs
in nine priority sectors, including electrical equipment,
organic chemicals, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals,
cosmetics, beverages, edible fruit and nuts, cocoa
and dairy products. Tariff quota duties, anti-dumping
measures and restrictive foreign exchange allocation

Although some NTMs can be reduced or eliminated, many are implemented for legitimate
and worthy purposes. In this regard, streamlining NTMs consists in reforming and
harmonizing them so as to maintain their purposes but at the lowest possible costs. “Efficient
regulations” should be the ultimate objective of NTM reform, as efficient regulations are
essential for increasing competitiveness. In practice, since they generally impose additional
costs to trade, streamlining NTMs will reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of
firms engaged in international trade. Streamlining NTMs involves two distinct tasks: one
consists of improving the nature of existing NTMs, the other consists of improving the
process through which new ones are introduced.

A. Approaches to reform of non-tariff measures

In the short run, in the presence of a legacy of overregulation, a “cleaning-up” process is a
useful first step and possibly the one with the greatest benefits. Striving for an improvement
in existing NTMs means reviewing them in light of the existing evidence of their effects.
Transparency, as discussed in section IV, is an essential prerequisite in this regard. In many
cases, the most harmful regulations and NTMs are easily identified – and often the problems
have been flagged repeatedly by the private sector and are known by competent ministries.
In order to eliminate them, one approach is to name and shame responsible agencies and
ministries in round tables with the private sector, or through the creation of registries – e.g.
single windows – where issuing agencies are asked to justify all measures.

In the long run, what matters is the process. Modern societies require a growing number
of product standards and regulations in order to respond to growing societal demands
for health, safety and environmental concerns. Developing a rule-making process that is
transparent, satisfies international obligations and allows trading partners adequate time to
comment on proposed regulations before they go into effect is a challenge, especially for
developing countries. In order to stem the tide of new regulations, countries often impose
periods of “regulatory moratorium” (e.g. Mexico in 2004). This, however, is generally only
a temporary fix. Preventing regulatory proliferation is one thing; improving the process
through which regulations are issued and enforced is another. For that, procedures must
be put in place with requirements that are clear and consistent with WTO. In this regard,
the international best practice is to impose mandatory regulatory impact assessment
procedures, such as those illustrated in box 2.29

29 A typical regulatory impact assessment will include the purpose and nature of the regulation;
the consultation process; a review of options for solving the problem; the benefits and costs of the
regulation; compliance, enforcement and monitoring; and summary and recommendations.



General questions

General data on the regulatory proposal (name, initiating agency, responsible officers)

Summary of the proposal (objectives, problem being addressed)

Section A: Legal analysis

Type of proposal (law, by-rule, technical standard)

Alternative measures considered

Legal basis for the measure

Related regulations, existing regulations affected by the proposal.

Section B: Regulatory analysis

Regulatory effects (identify and describe)

International experience (compatibility of proposed regulation, approaches followed in other countries)

Public consultation (describe process, who participated, what proposals were submitted, why not

Implementation (describe resources available)

Enforcement (describe mechanisms)

Section C : Impact analysis

Is this a high-impact measure? (compliance cost over $80m/year)

Is compliance cost concentrated on a particular group?

If yes to both, full cost-benefit analysis must be annexed

General effects on competition and trade (international and domestic)

Effects on consumers

Effects on SMEs

Measurable costs (description & quantification)

Measurable benefits (description & quantification)

Non-measurable benefits, additional information on costs & benefits

Effect on business formalities (does it affect, eliminate, or add one?)

Source: www.cofemer.gob.mx

Box 2. Simple regulatory impact assessment guidelines: Mexican version

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 67

1. The objective: efficient regulation

“Efficient regulation” is the objective of regulatory
reform. Whether NTMs or business regulations are
concerned, the principles that should guide regulatory
practice are largely the same. As defined by OECD,
these principles can be summarized in nine key

1. Transparency and openness. All stakeholders
should have unrestricted access to relevant
information on regulations and procedures and be
consulted on their design. Bureaucratic discretion
on the ground should be limited by clear rules.

2. Non-discrimination. Similar products and
services from all countries should be given equal
competitive opportunities, in conformity with the
WTO principles of national treatment and most
favoured nation clause. For instance, technical
regulations should not be designed to be costlier
for some producers than for others.

3. Avoiding unnecessary trade restrictiveness.
Governments should avoid the use of instruments
that restrict trade and investment more than is
needed to fulfil legitimate non-trade objectives,
either by design or in their implementation.

4. Use of performance-based regulation instead
of regulations based on design or descriptive
characteristics, so as to preserve producers’
technical flexibility in meeting requirements. This is
important to encourage innovation in response to
regulation. More broadly, regulatory instruments
should be market-based.

5. Systematic use of regulatory impact assessments
to evaluate, ex ante, the likely impact of new

6. Simplification to minimize compliance costs,
through one-stop shops, computerization and
extensive use of IT, simplification of licensing
and permit procedures and time limits for
administrative decisions.

7. Use of international standards for technical

8. Ensuring the quality of conformity assessment
procedures, so as to make them trade facilitators

(by raising consumer confidence) as opposed to
bureaucratic harassment. Options include mutual
recognition agreements, recognition of supplier’s
declaration of conformity, unilateral recognition
of conformity assessment results from other
countries and voluntary agreements between
conformity assessment bodies in different

9. Incorporation of competition-policy principles
into regulatory design. Creating or enhancing
competition should be a regulatory objective on a
par with other objectives.

These principles constitute a long-term goal for any
regulatory body, whether trade-relevant or not, and
regulatory impact assessment plays a central role
among them. Substantial benefits can be expected
from their application.

First, they should contribute to making the domestic
economy more efficient – through a better allocation
of resources – and more adaptable to change. Good
regulations foster innovation and encourage a drive for
quality. They also contribute to setting high standards
in the private sector by spreading quality management,
transparency and accountability.

Second, efficient regulation should contribute to
making the domestic economy more competitive.
Good regulations provide a fair business environment
in which the best firms can thrive and expand, while
inefficient ones are not propped up artificially by
regulatory barriers against competitors. A better
regulatory environment also attracts foreign capital,
contributing to employment, capital accumulation and
technology spillovers.

Finally, efficient regulation should contribute to
achieving societal goals such as the protection of local
public goods – the environment, public health and
so on – effectively and at low cost. By reducing the
business and trade costs of achieving broader societal
goals, better regulations enhance the achievement of
those goals.

In terms of implementation, a crucial element to
ensure sustainability is for the institutional set-up to
give an active role to the private sector and more
broadly to all interested parties in civil society. That is,
the top-down initial impulse should be complemented
by a bottom-up dynamic, because the latter is more
likely to be self-fuelling simply because those affected
by a regulation are in a better position to take the


initiative for its review than bureaucrats inside the

In addition, any review body for NTMs should not
be just a forum for the private sector to manifest its
discontent as after a few meetings where discontent
is expressed but to no avail, private sector interest
wanes. In many cases, there is actually a plethora of
such bodies. There should be one body and it should
be endowed with a permanent secretariat with the
resources and skilled staff to conduct meaningful

2. Streamlining regulations: a menu of

How to reach the objective of efficient regulations
through regulatory reform has proved a formidable
challenge. Several approaches have been proposed
and tried, largely on a pragmatic, experience-based
basis, going from drastic rethinking to the mere re-
engineering of day-to-day administrative transactions.

The “guillotine” approach, used in Mexico and Korea,
involves drawing up inventories of measures and
then setting reduction targets in terms of numbers
(say, “eliminate 300 regulations by 31 December”) or
through a given criterion. In the latter case, the guillotine
approach “reverses the burden of proof”, meaning that
it is up to the regulators to justify the fact that licences or
regulations are needed, the default being elimination.
Fast and effective, this approach does not require
lengthy and costly legal action on each regulation and
is appropriate in environments characterized by heavy
burdens of “legacy regulations”.

The “bulldozer” approach relies on civil society
mobilization – grass-roots movements, non-
governmental organizations, consumer associations,
concerned business lobbies and the like – to identify
unnecessary regulations and advocate their reform or
removal. That is, local communities and lobbies serve
as the “bulldozer” to confront and remove regulatory

“Scrap and build” is a more drastic approach that
challenges the entire regulatory regime. It consists of
a complete review of the regulatory system, rethinking
everything from first principles. The idea is to build from

30 This section draws on IFC (2010).

scratch a new, coherent and integrated regulatory
body. This approach has seldom been used, as it
requires immense political will and a high level of
technical capability, together with a willingness to get
rid of all legacy regulations, which seldom go together
except after conflicts and drastic political changes.

The “staged repeal” or “automatic revocation”
approach consists of a systematic and comprehensive
review of existing regulations, in which regulations are
grouped according to their age and progressively
repealed after review, focusing on their compatibility
with the current obligations and standards of the
country. It is a progressive and staggered schedule
of repeal based on the date of adoption. Regulations
not considered obsolete are remade. This process
gradually brings the entire stock of regulations into
conformity with current standards.

Review and sunset clauses are automatic triggers to
eliminate potentially outdated measures and to prevent
“legacy regulation”. Review clauses are requirements
for reviews to be conducted within a certain period.
The underlying assumption is that, unless something
is done, rules continue to be applied by sheer inertia.
This “something” is a clause mandating a review
of the rules, with an option to phase them out if
need arises. “Sunsetting” goes farther by setting
an automatic expiration date, unless the measure
is remade through normal rule-making processes.
This ensures continuing review and updating of the
stock of regulations. Sunset clauses ensure that
review of regulations takes place after a determined
period of time. For example, in Australia since 2006
most subordinate regulations (where the Parliament
has delegated the powers to make regulations to a
minister) are reviewed after a certain number of years.

Finally, process re-engineering – the least ambitious
approach – is the redesign of compliance verification
procedures and other paper transactions between
administrations and the private sector, eliminating
redundant steps and using information technologies
whenever feasible. These approaches have the power
not only to reduce the bureaucratic burden imposed on
businesses to verify compliance with local regulations,
but also to streamline administrative operations as
well and thus to cut costs for Government. Reform
of licences and permits is the most popular target of
process re-engineering as they impose heavy burdens
on investment, business start-ups, existing businesses
and the public administration workload.

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 69

analytical capabilities in the administration are short,
expertise networks can be formed with academics and
think tanks. This has the added advantage of drawing
in sectors of civil society which may not otherwise
have a voice in the process. The review process must
be endowed with substantial financial resources. If
serious impact evaluation or cost-benefit analysis
is considered, the amounts of funding that must be
mobilized are considerable. Another potentially critical
bottleneck in conducting meaningful reviews, cost-
benefit analyses and regulatory impact assessments
is the availability of data and data analysis to guide the
regulatory reform.

2. A case study: Mexican regulatory

Mexico is an interesting case study for several reasons.
First, at the time the reforms were launched, it faced
a formidable legacy of over-regulation, protectionism
and a culture in State administrations that was
unfriendly to business. Second, the reform drive was
very energetic and was largely triggered by external
events: NAFTA and the Tequila Crisis of December
1994. Third, the reform lost most of its political traction
in less than a decade, shedding light on the role of
reform design in ensuring the sustainability of results.

The Government of Mexico has been involved in
a continuing effort to streamline its NTMs as part
of a broader reform agenda involving regulatory
improvement – in some cases outright deregulation –
privatization and trade and financial liberalization. This
agenda marked a spectacular break from over three
decades of over-regulatory policies.

NAFTA provided a strong political anchor to a reform
process that predated it. The need for reforms had
become clear during the debt crisis of the 1980s
and the reforms started at low speed in 1986 with
Mexican accession to GATT. At that time, the Mexican
economy was characterized by heavy concentration –
a small number of large firms dominated the economy
and wielded a great deal of political power – and by
an oversized administration, with as many as 2 million
public sector workers in 1988 (IFC 2008). When NAFTA
entered into force in 1994, it gave the push needed
to lift the reform process. This became apparent in
the peso crisis of December 1994, during which the
private sector clamoured for protectionist measures.

Which approach is appropriate depends on the
particular context of reform; indeed, these models
are ex post categorizations of approaches that have
been tried in recent history. Whatever the model,
what matters in the practice of advice on regulatory
reform is (a) to calibrate the ambitions of the agenda
to its political traction; (b) to ensure local ownership of
the reform agenda and to make it self-fuelling; (c) to
design it, as much as possible, in a way that makes
future reversals difficult and costly.

B. Regulatory reform: lessons from
recent experience

1. Overall lessons

Regulatory reform is a long and difficult endeavour
requiring strong political traction, which should be
achieved through a mixture of a strong and stable
institutional set-up to ensure lock-in and international
support to reduce the cost of policy experimentation.
In terms of political support, reviews cannot satisfy
everyone and choices have to be made down the
road to maintain, scrap or change regulations. Some
of those choices will necessarily involve clashes with
special interests and political authorities must be
willing to stage those battles in order to translate the
results of regulatory reviews into action, lest the whole
process becomes meaningless.

Another key political aspect of reviews is that, although
they should be technical rather than political exercises,
they should involve wide participation by stakeholders.
In all its diverse forms, regulatory impact assessment,
for instance, allows for a consultation process at all
stages. The greatest advantage of conducting a
transparent process of regulatory impact assessment
is that when the decision is finally enforced, all sectors
affected by the measure have had the opportunity to
voice their opinions in a democratic process and are
thus willing to accept the outcome and adapt to it.

The recent experience in improving regulatory quality, in
particular through cost-benefit analyses and regulatory
impact assessments, highlights the importance of
skills and staff resources available in administrations.
Quantifying economic, social and environmental
impacts is a highly technical task and can yield
misleading conclusions if not done correctly. When


A second step in the institutionalization of the
regulatory reform process was the creation of the
Economic Deregulation Council, a consultative body
bringing together representatives of the ministries
which issued regulations, UDE, business, the labour
unions and academia (IFC 2008). Although without
formal sanction powers, the Council, which met
quarterly, reinforced the UDE strategy of exposing
silly or harmful regulations, or those driven by special
interests. Distortionary regulations often make their way
through the political process because of an imbalance
between concentrated beneficiaries (lobbies) and
dispersed societal interests. Around the Council
table, lobby-driven ministries, which were required by
the President to be represented by their secretaries
of State themselves (no low-level substitutes), found
themselves surrounded by representatives of wider
interests and that, by itself, made it more difficult to
ram through harmful measures. UDE would review
ministries strategically, starting with friendly ones
(Trade and Foreign Affairs) and turning to more difficult
ones (Interior, Communications, Transportation) later

The third and final step came with the passage
of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act and
the transformation of UDE into a formal federal
agency, the Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria
(COFEMER), in 2000. The objective of the law was
to ensure that new regulations would obey standards
of transparency and rationality by assessing the
regulatory process of specialized agencies. Since
1996, federal agencies had been required to submit
regulatory impact assessments with new regulation
projects. The creation of COFEMER, with a staff of
about 60 professionals, a budget of $5 million and
an independent status with a head appointed by
the President (although still within the Secretariat of
Trade) was meant to reinforce its powers. International
support was also important, including technical
assistance from peer agencies in Canada, the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and
the United States. However, key limits to its power,
such as the exclusion of all tax-related matters, were
maintained, as opposition from the Finance Ministry
made the inclusion of tax-related matters impossible.31

31 This exclusion contained aspects such as customs
procedures and regulations in general, including regulations
and requirements for customs brokers.

However, as NAFTA made reversion to protectionism
impossible, the only avenue left to improve the
competitiveness of Mexican industry, besides peso
devaluation, was to improve the business environment.
Thus NAFTA eliminated protectionism from the menu
of viable policy options, while the peso crisis put the
alternative – regulatory reform – at the centre of the
political debate.

The regulatory reform process was top down and
driven by a small group of 15 to 20 technocrats. These
were a mixture of economists and lawyers, many of
them trained abroad and sharing a vision that placed
markets – rather than the State – at the centre of the
Mexican growth strategy. The technocrats had the
full support of the Presidency and in particular of the
President’s legal counsel, under the administrations
of Presidents Salinas (1988-94) and Zedillo (1994-
2000). Presidential support was especially powerful
at a time when the President’s party, the PRI, also
controlled Congress. The subsequent fragmentation
of political power was a major contributing factor in
the weakening of the reform process. Political support
at the highest level, coherence in the overall reform
agenda and strong credentials gave the technocrats
the authority they needed to make things move.

The process was institutionalized through the
creation of an agency for regulatory improvement.
The Economic Deregulation Unit (UDE), created as
early as 1989, was placed under the authority of
the Secretariat of Trade but given, by Presidential
decree, a broader authority than the Secretariat itself
. However, the controversial decision to place the unit
under the umbrella of a ministry rather than making
it a strictly independent agency has been argued by
some to be at the root of its current weakening. In
the early days, UDE gathered credibility and authority
by initially targeting “low-hanging fruits” – regulatory
reforms that were easy and widely seen as urgent.
Early achievements included deregulation of road
transport, electricity and the ports, followed by a
land tenure reform. This short list shows that UDE
embarked on an ambitious deregulation agenda rather
than tackling a laundry-list of small-scale, low-visibility
regulations and NTMs. However, it also undertook
more pedestrian endeavours; for instance, it created
an exhaustive federal registry of business formalities.
It required all ministries not just to notify, but also
to provide justification. This shamed ministries into
eliminating the most inadequate formalities, leading to
the elimination of 45 per cent of them by 1999 (IFC

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 71

goods to more competition is not acceptable if
upstream services (banking, telecommunications,
energy, transportation) are dominated by inefficient
monopolies or cartels. Making tradable goods more
competitive is acceptable to the private sector only if
it is compensated by the lower input costs brought
about by an effective competition policy at home (or
by customs reform and improved trade facilitation).

Reforming alone is hard. The Mexican experience
shows the critical importance of international support.
UDE and later COFEMER drew extensively on support
from peer agencies and international experts. In this
regard, product standards in particular are increasingly
complex, but at the same time regulatory needs are
not enormously different from one country to another.
There is no need for national administrations to
spend precious budget resources duplicating work
(in the form of standard-setting or expert review)
that has already been done elsewhere. However,
fruitful contact and cooperation between the national
agency and foreign counterparts require personnel in
the national agency to be sufficiently well-trained to
be able to communicate with their foreign peers. This
allows ideas to be exchanged and best practices to be
brought home, is key to their efficiency and motivation
and points to careful selection of agency personnel at
the outset.

The sustainability of the reform process requires an
institutional set-up topped by a powerful, independent
agency. UDE was in that category, but COFEMER
proved to be a relative disappointment. Its location
within the Secretariat of Trade gave, rightly or wrongly,
the impression that it lacked independence. It proved
unable to overrule the most powerful vested interests
in Mexican society and each lost battle weakened
its standing. By contrast, the Federal Competition
Commission steadily consolidated its power over
time. These contrasting evolutions have prompted
some observers to suggest that one single agency,
combining enforcement powers in both competition
authority and regulatory improvement, would have
had more authority, with each branch leveraging the
authority of the other. In addition, there are obvious
synergies in the analytical work performed by both
types of agencies, so the personnel required would
be largely the same. COFEMER has proved itself too
dependent on waning political support.

Engaging middle-ranking administration levels in
the reform process is crucial. Streamlining NTMs
and regulatory reform may sound good in high-

In spite of the institutionalization of the regulatory
reform process, the effectiveness of COFEMER was
only as strong as the President’s political backing.
When elections returned a majority in Congress that
was hostile to the President, his backing became less
powerful and partisan politics significantly slowed down
the reform process between 1997 and 2000. By that
time, general reform fatigue in the face of disappointing
growth (although the performance of the country was
due to a variety of factors that had little to do with that
of COFEMER) had eroded political support for further
regulatory reform. In 2003, COFEMER lost a key battle
against the telecommunications sector, waiving its
right to issue an opinion on its draft regulation (which
was favoured by incumbent operators).

The Mexican experience highlights the benefits that
come from streamlining NTMs when this is part of a
broader regulatory reform agenda. The number of
licences, permits and other information requirements
in the commerce and transport sector, for instance,
was cut from about 1,000 in 1995 to fewer than
400 in 2000 (IFC, 2008) and UDE reviewed over 500
regulatory proposals between 1995 and 2000. All in
all, about 90 per cent of the regulatory framework was
affected by the process. During the reform period,
capital inflows represented over 4 per cent of GDP on
average and the recovery after the 1994 peso crisis
was much faster than after the debt crisis of 1982 (IFC,
2008). However, as noted, the drive for reform lost
momentum in later years. Both the initial successes
and the later loss of impetus carry important lessons.

The reform agenda must be comprehensive and
consistent rather than piecemeal. For instance, there
is little point in eliminating harmful or unnecessary
NTMs if ministries come up with new regulations that
are no more transparent or rational than the ones
being eliminated. If the improvement in the NTM
environment is to be permanent, new regulations
must be systematically based on regulatory impact

Also, when NTMs protect particular interests,
making their elimination politically viable requires
compensation. The objective of a consistent reform
agenda is to find compensatory measures that also
enhance overall efficiency, such as improvements
in the domestic regulatory environment, customs
reform, labour market reform, or a better competition
policy. For instance, the overall objective of NTM
improvement is to make markets for tradable goods
more competitive, but exposing sectors of tradable


regulations and NTMs, taken seriously and
used in conjunction with systematic exposure
and consultation with stakeholders.

The first element may not be readily available, since
few international agreements provide political anchors
as strong as NAFTA for Mexico or the Treaty of
Rome for European Union member States. It is up to
reform-minded Governments to find the commitment
mechanism, internal or external, that best fits national
particularities. The second is a question of mindset
– accepting that foreign experience is relevant
and foreign advice is useful. The third element (the
institutional set-up) can be easily created for the
purpose of the reform; the difficulty is to design it
right. The last element poses no conceptual problem,
since guidelines for regulatory impact assessment are
available from Governments that use them extensively
(e.g. the United Kingdom); the real difficulty is in
effective engagement of domestic administrations.

C. Streamlining of non-tariff
measures: a practical, step-by-step

Any review of NTMs should be based on a few guiding
principles to ensure that it is effective in the sense of
getting acceptance for reform while not watering down
proposals for change when they are needed. This
means that the process should generate ownership
in the agencies driving the regulatory process, but at
the same time that it should generate enough new
information to make proposals for reform flow naturally
from factual analysis. It should also be sufficiently
flexible to accommodate different methodologies
and adapt the review process to specific country
environments in terms of capabilities. These basic
working principles translate into the following guiding

x The review process aims to improve trade
regulations by determining whether they are
fulfilling their stated objectives while being the
least restrictive of trade.

32 This section draws on the forthcoming toolkit for
streamlining NTMs developed by the World Bank (Cadot,
Malouche and Saez (2012)).

level pronouncements, but they are worth only
what actually happens on the ground. Typically, the
strongest resistance to corporate change comes
from middle-level management. The same applies
to public administrations. Changes in rules and
procedures mandated from the top are only as good
as their implementation by division heads and lower-
ranking officials. This requires their adhesion in the
face of uncertainty about the effect of regulatory
reform on their status and position. When regulatory
improvement comes as part of an aggressive agenda
of State retrenchment and privatization, it can easily be
perceived as hostile and threatening, leading to inertia
or passive resistance. In Mexico, the spoils system
made it possible to change the personnel of the public
administration down to middle levels in key areas
(IFC 2008). However this carries a risk of politically
motivated reversal later on and is not conducive
to the long-term viability of the reforms. Far better
would be to gain the support of a stable, competent
administration through training and communication,
which COFEMER tried to do (but with insufficient
means) through capacity-building seminars.

Highlighting the fragmentation and uncertainty of the
reform process, the Government of Mexico recently
undertook a new regulatory review process under the
name of “Zero base regulation approach”, led by the
Ministries of the Economy and of Public Administration
and apparently bypassing COFEMER. The process
was expected to be concluded by the end of 2011.

This brief review of the Mexican experience suggests
that the NTM regulatory improvement toolbox has
essentially four elements, each of which can play a
role separately or in combination with the others:

x A consistent and mutually-reinforcing reform
agenda and a strong and permanent political
anchor, such as a binding trade agreement
(e.g. NAFTA).

x International support in the form of technical
assistance to the regulatory improvement body
and international (typically regional) cooperation
in the elimination of NTMs.

x A credible institutional set-up revolving around
a strong independent, competent oversight
body with high-level political support.

x Engagement of national administrations,
in particular middle-level civil servants, in a
regulatory impact assessment process for new

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 73

the work conducted by the review agency. An example
of the mandate for the agency responsible for leading
the review of domestic trade regulations is to:

x Propose procedures for conducting the review.
x Check the legitimacy of requests for review in

terms of factual accuracy and the importance
of the issue.

x Inform the relevant authorities of its decision to
undertake a review, if it decides to do so.

x Gather survey, statistical and technical
information, e.g. through questionnaires to

x Organize hearings with stakeholders to discuss
and clarify the information gathered.

x Coordinate the review process with all
regulatory agencies.

x Issue a report of the review process. Reviews
could be made shorter for measures for
which there is a presumption of redundancy
or inconsistency with WTO, whereas heavily
technical cases involving SPS measures or
technical regulations could take longer.

The agency would then start the review process
by first conducting a preliminary check to verify the
accuracy and adequacy of the information provided
by the initiating agent so as to determine whether the
evidence is sufficient to justify the initiation of a review.
The agency has the authority to request/acquire
additional information or directly reject the case and
terminate the review process if it finds that that there
is not sufficient evidence for proceeding with the
review.35 Some of the criteria for assessing whether
or not to initiate a review include whether the measure
clearly restricts trade (e.g. prohibitions and quantity
restrictions); whether the impact is large; and whether
the industry/sector being affected by the existing
regulation contributes substantially to the economy
(GDP, employment, foreign reserves, etc.).

If the agency decides that the information provides
enough evidence for possible NTM reform, it will
initiate a formal review process which will result in a

35 The agency could adopt a set of parameters to quickly
assess the impact of the existing barriers, such as a de
minimis threshold to assess the costs of the measure, to
determine whether the impact is negligible.

x The primary responsibility for regulation lies
with the issuing regulatory agency or ministry.
The aim of the review process is to support
their work.

x The review process should be led by an agency,
ministry or committee33 with a clear mandate,
which is accountable and has strong political

x The review process is gradual, sustainable and
aims to establish a self-fuelling process that
can grow over time. Gradualism means that the
review process could focus initially on specific
institutions (e.g. standard-setting bodies) and
regulations (e.g. prohibitions, licensing or other
prima facie trade barriers) and later on move to
wider issues.

x The review process should be initiated only
when minimum requirements are met, in order
to avoid using resources on irrelevant requests.

x The review process should proceed as an
ex-post regulatory impact assessment by
providing a cost-benefit analysis of measures
in place.

1. Process of streamlining non-tariff

There are several actors that can initiate (or request) a
process for streamlining NTMs. They include interested
stakeholders, the private sector, government agencies
and other regulatory and legislative bodies. Once these
actors make the case to Government, the government
task is to decide at which level it would like the process
of decision to take place and to appoint or create an
agency to oversee the overall review process.34

The second step consists of defining the mandate of
the agency responsible for conducting the reviews,
as well as the nature and objectives of the process.
Although one agency should be designated to lead
the process, in order to ensure ownership, all relevant
regulatory bodies should be involved in the process
and the review of the facts, as well as in the analysis of

33 This includes the possibility of an interministerial or inter-
agency committee.
34 For instance, in New Zealand, the Treasury is responsible
for reviewing new regulations, while in Mexico a specialized
agency (COFEMER) conducts the reviews.


In general, the review process should aim to
inform all interested parties of the essential facts
under consideration, which form the basis for the
recommendations regarding the measures under
review. In more detailed terms, the outcome report
should discuss the findings and recommendations of
the review process and should:

x Clearly define the regulatory NTM problem.
x Identify the public policy objectives of the


x Identify and analyse the measure(s) related to
the problem, including whether they are clear
and concisely written.

x Provide an analysis of the incidence of the
trade-related impacts of the measure(s): who
bears the costs and benefits, i.e. small business
versus medium-sized and large business,
exporters versus import substitution firms etc.

x Provide an assessment of other available policy
options, their incidence and how they could
achieve an outcome that is less restrictive
to trade, while maintaining the same level of

report to be submitted to a review committee. The
review process, of which the technical details are
presented in the next section, should allow for inputs
from the private sector and more broadly from all
interested parties in civil society. This is consistent with
the idea that a broadly based constituency for reform
is also required.36 Another important element is for all
regulatory agencies to be represented on the review
body in order to ensure that the decision to initiate a
review is accepted simply by the force of an open and
democratic decision-making system. Complementary
to that is that a dispute resolution mechanism must
be clearly spelled out, with the possibility of referring
disagreements about the actions to follow the
recommendations of a review up to the highest levels
for final decision. This is the most delicate part of the
design, as the process is politically sensitive and should
not be perceived as adversarial at the outset, in case
no agency participates in it. Ideally, the process should
be initially viewed as producing technical solutions to
technical problems and only progressively grow into a
truly comprehensive regulatory framework.

36 Akinci and Ladegaard (2009) and Jacobs and Ladegaard

Figure 21. Approach to streamlining NTMs

Source: adapted from Cadot, Malouche and Saez (2012).

Government intervention
on merits

Appointment of a
regulatory agency

in charge of the review process


Consultations with

Inputs from experts

Discussions by the Review Committee
Members of the review committee:

tChair agency leading process
tLine ministries (Health, Environment,
Agriculture, Industry & Trade)
tOther regulatory agencies

Definition of the mandate

Information and recommendation

Recommendation to the

issuing the regulation


Request for NTM

Initiative from:
t Private sector
t Government body
t Regulatory agency
t Mandated by law

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 75

government procurement can be used to reinforce
or, on the contrary, fight dominant positions on the
domestic market. In terms of governance, there are
high stakes in all three areas, so tackling them all
together may bring very substantial benefits.

The role of regulatory watchdog can also be
established at a supranational level, especially where
regional integration is already advanced. In addition,
the creation of a regional institution replacing national
agencies with similar mandates further facilitates
effective trade integration.

2. The review process for non-tariff
measures in detail

The review process for NTMs is a particular instance
of a broader exercise of impact evaluation, in which
some outcome of interest (employment, foreign
trade, welfare or other) is compared in the presence
of a policy measure vs. that in its absence. The key
problem is one of “missing data”, because one cannot
observe the world both with and without the measure
– it can only be examined one way or the other. In
an ex ante exercise, such as a regulatory impact
assessment, the outcome without the measure is the
current one; the outcome with the measure must be
simulated. In an ex post review, the outcome with the
measure is the current one; the outcome without it
must be either simulated or approximated by using
“comparators” i.e. somewhat similar markets where
the measure is not in place. This comparison can be
made formally using econometric methods.

This evaluation is complicated by a methodological
issue which stems from what economists call the
“theorem of the second best”. When an economy is
riddled with several distortions, getting rid of one may
not necessarily improve welfare. For instance, Datt
and Yang (2011) show that when the Government of
the Philippines tried to close a tariff-evasion loophole
by reducing the threshold below which pre-shipment
inspection was not mandatory, importers switched
to using the export processing zone to smuggle
shipments into the domestic market. As a result, duty
collection did not go up but the cost of importing rose,
making the domestic economy worse off. Thus, the
impact evaluation of an NTM should carefully observe
all possible side-effects and interactions before getting
to recommendations.

protection. Due consideration should also
be given to the difference of the incidence
of impact, depending on the various policy

x Describe the consultation process undertaken
during the review.

x Present the overall assessment, including
the findings and policy recommendations:
maintain, change or remove a measure.

x Also include analysis of the issues related to
the implementation of any proposed reforms,
‚ Administration issues, such as

which agency is responsible for the
administration of the options and
resources available.

‚ The information that regulated parties
will require in order to comply with the

‚ Timing and transitional arrangements,
i.e. gradual introduction of new
requirements, at least six months before
the entry into force of the new regulation,
provision of interim assistance.

‚ Enforcement strategy – how compliance
can be enforced and the suitability of
risk-based enforcement strategies.

Ultimately, the report will recommend adopting,
maintaining, changing or eliminating the NTM
concerned. The recommendation should to be
submitted to a review committee composed of all
regulatory agencies involved in the regulatory reform.
The review committee can request additional analysis
or clear the report and submit it to the competent
authority for implementation.

Finally, as the process will eventually grow into full-
blown regulatory reform, one important question is how
to give the regulatory watchdog enough power to pick
up meaningful battles against vested interests. One
possibility, briefly discussed in the Mexican context,
is to merge several economic watchdog functions
into a more powerful body. This body should have a
broad mandate including (a) regulatory oversight, (b)
competition policy and (c) oversight of government
procurement. These issues are clearly intertwined;
for instance, NTMs which restrict trade have much
more deleterious effects in the presence of domestic
interests, which is a competition policy issue. Similarly,


The key issue in assessing the justification of an
NTM is whether or not there is a market failure. If the
answer is no, the Government should just step out
and let markets work efficiently. A market failure is a
situation where the pursuit of individual interests fails
to lead to the common good. For instance, it may be
that suppliers of low-quality products create so much
uncertainty in the market that high-quality suppliers are
driven out, a classic problem known as the “market for
lemons”. In general, market failures are characterized
by imperfect information or externalities in production
or consumption.

The key questions of an NTM review process can be
summarized as follows:

1. Is the measure justified by a market failure?

2. If yes, does the measure efficiently address
the market failure (i.e. is it the least distortive

3. If yes, is the overall cost-benefit analysis

The logical sequence of these questions is illustrated
in figure 22.

Preliminary analysis of the NTM

Issue is substantial?

Yes No

Regulatory fact-finding

Market failure?

Yes No

Regulation correctly
targets market failure?


Regulation benefits clearly
outweighs costs?


t Regulation should be kept or implemented
t Look for ways to redesign it in a cost-minimizing

t Drop case

t Propose regulation



t Propose regulation

t Debate regulation

Trade facilitation team
for implementation

Figure 22. The logical flow of an NTM review

Source: adapted from Cadot, Malouche and Saez (2012).

VI. Streamlining non-tariff measures 77

firms could still sell toxic paints, putting local producers
at a competitive disadvantage on their own market. In
practice, the regulation ended up penalizing domestic
producers without protecting consumers.

Once the existence of market failures and the correct
targeting have been ascertained, the next task is the
cost-benefit analysis. Measurement issues associated
with the trade costs of NTMs have been discussed
in section II of this study. The question here is how
to balance them against the benefits of the regulation
in terms of addressing a market failure. Conceptually,
the answer can be found in figure 23. The left-hand
panel shows the market outcome without a regulation.
The horizontal axis measures quantities consumed
and the vertical axis measures prices and monetary
valuations going away from the origin. The upper part
measures positive valuations accruing to consumers
from consumption of the good, whereas the lower
part measures negative valuations affecting other
domestic residents as a result of the consumption of
the good by some.

In the upper part, the grey triangle measures consumer
surplus, which contributes positively to domestic
welfare. In the lower part, the grey rectangle measures
the negative externality, which contributes negatively
to domestic welfare. The net effect on society of the
import of the good is the difference between the two,
which, as drawn, is negative. Government intervention
is thus called for, because left to themselves,
consumers are unlikely to internalize the negative
externality imposed on other agents.

The right-hand panel shows the market outcome
after a regulation has been imposed with the following
effects: (a) to reduce the negative externality per unit
consumed, measured by the height of the rectangle
in the left-hand panel; and (b) to raise the unit cost
of the good, which reduces its consumption. Thus,
the regulation affects the market outcome through
two distinct channels. First, it directly reduces the
externality by affecting product characteristics; this
results from the design of the regulation. Second, it
raises the cost of the good (it is assumed that the
technical features that reduce the externality are
costly, since otherwise foreign producers would have
adopted them without being forced to). This reduces
consumption, with two effects on welfare: consumer
surplus, the upper triangle, is reduced, which affects
welfare negatively; but the consumption reduction
also further reduces the externality, which is good
for welfare. The net effect on welfare can be either

In a trade context, imported products may carry hazards
because of faulty regulations in the country where they
were produced. If quality testing is too expensive for
individual consumers to undertake, the Government
may step in by imposing technical regulations applying
to all products sold on the domestic market, whether
locally produced or imported. Similarly, some varieties
of a product may have adverse environmental effects
which the Government wants to regulate to overcome
a problem of collective action.

Before the Government steps in – i.e. before reviewers
jump to the conclusion that a given regulation is justified
– a key step is to assess whether market forces are
not by themselves likely to generate a solution to the
problem. For instance, if quality testing is not feasible
for individual consumers, it may be quite feasible for
large-scale retailers or distributors; alternatively, high-
quality producers may signal their calibre through
various mechanisms such as warranties.

Once the case for a market failure is clearly established,
the second task consists in assessing precisely where
it lies. Efficient regulation should target precisely the
market failure (the so-called “targeting principle”)
in order to minimize the distortion costs imposed
on the economy. For instance, the externality may
stem from local production of goods using imported
intermediates, or it may stem from consumption.

To clarify, consider the production of a consumer
product (e.g. household paint) out of toxic
intermediates (e.g. chemical pigments). If the problem
with the intermediates is that they may affect the
health of workers, workplace regulation is called for. If
the problem is that their use in a factory may generate
toxic effluents, an environmental regulation affecting
the production process is called for. In both cases,
the type of regulation that is called for is not an NTM.
Lastly, if the problem is that their use makes the final
product toxic for consumers, a technical regulation on
all varieties of the final product sold on the domestic
market, whether imported or produced locally, is
called for. Failure to target precisely the regulation
at the market failure can produce inconsistent and
inefficient regulation.

In a recent instance, a regulator faced with that version
of the problem (pigments making the paint toxic to
final users) reacted by imposing a ban on imports of
the toxic pigments while not regulating local sales of
paint. As a result, local producers had to switch to
more expensive, non-toxic pigments whereas foreign


in which subjects are put in situations where their
willingness to pay for certain public goods is elicited.
The use of such methods in the context of trade-
related regulations has been relatively recent (see e.g.
Disdier and Marette (2010) and also the references
in van Tongeren, Beghin and Marette, (2009)).
Willingness to pay for biodiversity has been explored
through the auction of “conservation contracts” (see
Latacz-Lohmann and Schilizzi (2005) for a survey and
also Stoneham et al. (2003) for an application).

positive or negative, depending on the design of the

What is important in this conceptual framework is that
it highlights a key point: the trade costs discussed in
section II above are only half the story. A measure can
impose high trade costs, but in so doing avoid even
bigger harm to the importing country.

In practice, the measurement of externalities is difficult.
Information can be generated through experiments

Figure 23. Costs and benefits of a regulation

Source: adapted from Beghin et al. (2011).


Prices & monetary

Foreign supply

Domestic demand
Consumer surplus



Foreign supply

NTM compliance cost

Domestic demand

Consumer surplus

Prices & monetary


Before regulation After regulation

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Measures that are applied to protect human or animal life from risks arising from
additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in their food; to protect
human life from plant- or animal-carried diseases; to protect animal or plant life from
pests, diseases, or disease-causing organisms; to prevent or limit other damage to a
country from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; and to protect biodiversity.
These include measures taken to protect the health of fish and wild fauna, as well as of
forests and wild flora.

Note that measures for environmental protection (other than as defined above), to
protect consumer interests, or for the welfare of animals are not covered by SPS.

Measures classified under A1 through A6 are technical regulations while those in A8 are
their conformity assessment procedures.

A1 Prohibitions/restrictions of imports for SPS reasons

Prohibition and/or restriction of the final products to be imported are classified
in this chapter. Restrictions on the tolerance limits on residues or use of certain
substances contained in the final products are classified under A2 below.

A11 Temporary geographic prohibitions for SPS reasons

Prohibition of imports of specified products from countries or regions due
to infectious/contagious diseases: Measures included in this category are
typically more of an ad hoc and time-bound nature.

Example: Imports of poultry from areas affected by avian flu or cattle from
foot-and-mouth disease-affected countries are prohibited.

A12 Geographical restrictions on eligibility

Prohibition of imports of specified products from specific countries or regions
due to lack of evidence of sufficient safety conditions to avoid sanitary and
phytosanitary hazards: The restriction is imposed automatically until the
country proves employment of satisfactory sanitary and phytosanitary
measures to provide a certain level of protection against hazards that is
considered acceptable.

Eligible countries are put on a “positive list”. Imports from other countries are
prohibited. The list may include authorized production establishments within
the eligible country.

Example: Imports of dairy products from countries that have not proven
satisfactory sanitary conditions are prohibited.



A13 Systems approach

An approach that combines two or more independent SPS measures on a same product: The
combined measures can be composed of any number of interrelated measures, as well as their
conformity assessment requirements and applied at all stages of production.

Example: An import programme establishes a package of measures that specifies specific pest-
free production location, pesticides to be used, harvesting techniques as well as post-harvest
fumigation, combined with inspection requirement at entry point: hazard analysis and critical
control point (HACCP) requirements.

A14 Special authorization requirement for SPS reasons

A requirement that importers should receive authorization, permits or approval from a relevant
government agency of the destination country for SPS reasons: In order to obtain the authorization,
importers may need to comply with other related regulations and conformity assessments.

Example: An import authorization from the Ministry of Health is required.

A15 Registration requirements for importers

The requirement that importers should be registered before they can import certain products: To
register, importers may need to comply with certain requirements, provide documentation and
pay registration fees.

Example: Importers of a certain food item need to be registered at the Ministry of Health.

A19 Prohibitions/restrictions of imports for SPS reasons, not elsewhere specified (n.e.s.)

A2 Tolerance limits for residues and restricted use of substances

A21 Tolerance limits for residues of or contamination by certain (non-microbiological)

A measure that establishes a maximum residue limit (MRL) or tolerance limit of substances such
as fertilisers, pesticides, and certain chemicals and metals in food and feed, which are used
during their production process but are not their intended ingredients: It includes a permissible
maximum level (ML) for non-microbiological contaminants. Measures related to microbiological
contaminants are classified under A4 below.

Examples: (a) MRL is established for insecticides, pesticides, heavy metals and veterinary drug
residues; (b) POPs and chemicals generated during processing; (c) residues of dithianon in
apples and hop.

A22 Restricted use of certain substances in foods and feeds and their contact materials

Restriction or prohibition on the use of certain substances contained in food and feed. It includes
the restrictions on substances contained in the food containers that might migrate to food.

Examples: (a) Certain restrictions exist for food and feed additives used for colouring, preservation
or sweeteners; (b) For food containers made of polyvinyl chloride plastic, vinyl chloride monomer
must not exceed 1 mg per kg.

A3 Labelling, marking and packaging requirements

A31 Labelling requirements

Measures defining the information directly related to food safety, which should be provided to
the consumer: Labelling is any written, electronic or graphic communication on the consumer
packaging or on a separate but associated label.

Examples: (a) Labels that must specify the storage conditions such as “5 degree C maximum”;
(b) potentially dangerous ingredients such as allergens, e.g. “contains honey not suitable for
children under one year of age”.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 87

A32 Marking requirements

Measures defining the information directly related to food safety, which should be carried by the
packaging of goods for transportation and/or distribution.

Example: Outside transport container must be marked with instructions such as handling for
perishable goods, refrigeration needs, or protection from direct sunlight, etc.

A33 Packaging requirements

Measures regulating the mode in which goods must be or cannot be packed, or defining the
packaging materials to be used, which are directly related to food safety.

Example: Use of PVC films for food packaging is restricted.

A4 Hygienic requirements

Requirements related to food quality, composition and safety, which are usually based on hygienic and
good manufacturing practices (GMPs), recognized methods of analysis and sampling: The requirements
may be applied on the final product (A41) or on the production processes (A42).

A41 Microbiological criteria of the final product

Statement of the microorganisms of concern and/or their toxins/metabolites and the reason for
that concern, the analytical methods for their detection and/or quantification in the final product:
Microbiological limits should take into consideration the risk associated with the microorganisms,
and the conditions under which the food is expected to be handled and consumed. Microbiological
limits should also take account of the likelihood of uneven distribution of microorganisms in the
food and the inherent variability of the analytical procedure.

Examples: Liquid eggs should be pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy all viable Salmonella

A42 Hygienic practices during production

Requirements principally intended to give guidance on the establishment and application of
microbiological criteria for foods at any point in the food chain from primary production to final
consumption: The safety of foods is principally assured by control at the source, product design
and process control, and the application of good hygienic practices during production, processing
(including labelling), handling, distribution, storage, sale, preparation and use.

Example: Milking equipment on the farm should be cleaned daily with a specified detergent.

A49 Hygienic requirements, n.e.s.

A5 Treatment for elimination of plant and animal pests and disease-causing organisms in
the final product (e.g. post-harvest treatment)

Various treatments that can be applied during production or as a post-production process, in order to
eliminate plant and animal pests or disease-causing organisms in the final product.

A51 Cold/heat treatment

Requirement of cooling/heating of products below/above certain temperature for a certain period
of time to kill targeted pests, either prior to, or upon arrival to the destination country. Specific
facilities on land or ships could be requested. In this case, containers should be equipped properly
to conduct cold/heat treatment and should be equipped with temperature sensors.

Example: Citrus fruits must undergo cold (disinfection) treatment to eliminate fruit flies.

A52 Irradiation

Requirement to kill or devitalize microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be
present in food and feed products by using irradiated energy (ionizing radiation).


Example: This technology may be applied on meat products, fresh fruits, spices and dried
vegetable seasonings.

A53 Fumigation

A process of exposing insects, fungal spores or other organisms to the fumes of a chemical at a
lethal strength in an enclosed space for a given period of time. A fumigant is a chemical, which at
a required temperature and pressure can exist in the gaseous state in sufficient concentration to
be lethal to a given pest organism.

Example: Use of acetic acid is mandatory as a post-harvest fumigant to destroy fungal spores
on peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries; methyl bromide for fumigating cut flowers and
many other commodities.

A59 Treatment for elimination of plant and animal pests and disease-causing organisms
in the final product, n.e.s.

A6 Other requirements on production or post-production processes

Requirement on other (post-) production processes not classified above. It also excludes those specific
measures under A2: Tolerance limits for residues and restricted use of substances (or its

A61 Plant-growth processes

Requirements on how a plant should be grown in terms of conditions related to temperature,
light, spacing between plants, water, oxygen, mineral nutrients, etc.

Example: Seeding rate and row spacing of soybean plants are specified to reduce the risk of
frogeye leaf spots.

A62 Animal-raising or -catching processes

Requirements on how an animal should be raised or caught because of SPS concerns.

Example: Cattle should not be fed with feeds containing offal of cows suspected of BSE.

A63 Food and feed processing

Requirements on how food or feed production should take place in order to satisfy sanitary
conditions for the final products.

Example: New equipment or machinery for handling or processing feed in or around an
establishment producing animal feed shall not contain polychlorinated biphenils (PCBs).

A64 Storage and transport conditions

Requirements on certain conditions under which food and feed, plants and animals should be
stored and/or transported.

Example: Certain foodstuffs should be stored in a dry place, or below a certain temperature.

A69 Other requirements on production or post-production processes, n.e.s

A8 Conformity assessment related to SPS

Requirement for verification that a given SPS condition has been met. It could be achieved by one or
combined forms of inspection and approval procedure, including procedures for sampling, testing and
inspection; evaluation, verification and assurance of conformity; accreditation and approval, etc.

A81 Product registration requirement

Product registration requirement in the importing country.

Example: Requirements and guidelines for the registration of a pesticide and its compounds, e.g.
for minor crops/minor use. The measure may include provisions describing types of pest control

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 89

products that are exempt from registration and procedures detailing the registration process,
including provisions relating to distribution, import, sampling and detention.

A82 Testing requirement

A requirement for products to be tested against a given regulation, such as MRL: This measure
includes the cases where there is sampling requirement.

Example: A test on a sample of orange imports is required to check against the maximum
residue level of pesticides.

A83 Certification requirement

Certification of conformity with a given regulation that is required by the importing country but may
be issued in the exporting or the importing country.

Example: Certificate of conformity for materials in contact with food (containers, papers, plastics,
etc.) is required.

A84 Inspection requirement

Requirement for product inspection in the importing country. It may be performed by public or
private entities. It is similar to testing, but it does not include laboratory testing.

Example: Animals or plant parts must be inspected before entry is allowed.

A85 Traceability requirements

Disclosure requirement of information that allows following a product through the stages of
production, processing and distribution.

A851 Origin of materials and parts

Disclosure of information on the origin of materials and parts used in the final product.

Example: For vegetables, disclosure of information on the location of the farm, name of
the farmer or fertilisers used may be required.

A852 Processing history

Disclosure of information on all stages of production: may include their locations,
processing methods and/or equipment and materials used.

Example: For meat products, disclosure of information on their slaughter house, as well
as food-processing factory, may be required.

A853 Distribution and location of products after delivery

Disclosure of information on when and how the goods have been distributed from the
time of their delivery to distributors until they reach the final consumer.

Example: For rice, disclosure of information on the location of its temporary storage
facility may be required.

A859 Traceability requirements, n.e.s.

A86 Quarantine requirement

Requirement to detain or isolate animals, plants or their products on arrival at a port or place for a
given period in order to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious disease, or contamination.

Example: Live dogs must be quarantined for two weeks before entry into the territory is authorized.
Plants need to be quarantined to terminate or restrict the spread of harmful organisms.

A89 Conformity assessment related to SPS, n.e.s.

A9 SPS measures, n.e.s.



Measures referring to technical regulations, and procedures for assessment of conformity with technical
regulations and standards, excluding measures covered by the SPS Agreement.

A technical regulation is a document which lays down product characteristics or their related processes and
production methods, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory. It
may also include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as
they apply to a product, process or production method. A conformity assessment procedure is any procedure
used, directly or indirectly, to determine that relevant requirements in technical regulations or standards are
fulfilled; it may include, inter alia, procedures for sampling, testing and inspection; evaluation, verification and
assurance of conformity; registration, accreditation and approval as well as their combinations.

Measures classified under B1 through B7 are technical regulations while those under B8 are their conformity
assessment procedures. Among the technical regulations, those in B4 are related to production processes,
while others are applied directly to products.

B1 Prohibitions/restrictions of imports for objectives set out in the TBT agreement

Such prohibitions/restrictions may be established for reasons related, inter alia, to national security
requirements; the prevention of deceptive practices; protection of human health or safety, animal or
plant life or health, or the environment. Restrictions on the tolerance limits on residues or use of certain
substances contained in the final products are classified under B2 below.

B11 Prohibition for TBT reasons

Import prohibition for reasons set out in B1.

Example: Imports are prohibited for hazardous substances including explosives, certain toxic
substances covered by the Basel Convention such as aerosol sprays containing CFCs, a range
of HCFCs and BFCs, halons, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride.

B14 Authorization requirement for TBT reasons

Requirement that the importer should receive authorization, permits or approval from a relevant
government agency of the destination country, for reasons such as national security, environment
protection, etc.

Example: Imports must be authorized for drugs, waste and scrap, and firearms, etc.

B15 Registration requirement for importers for TBT reasons

Requirement that importers should be registered in order to import certain products. To register,
importers may need to comply with certain requirements, documentation and registration fees.
It also includes the cases when the registration of establishments producing certain products is

Example: Importers of sensitive products such as medicines, drugs, explosives, firearms, alcohol,
cigarettes, game machines, etc., may be required to be registered in the importing country.

B19 Prohibitions/restrictions of imports for objectives set out in the TBT agreement,

B2 Tolerance limits for residues and restricted use of substances

B21 Tolerance limits for residues of or contamination by certain substances

A measure that establishes a maximum level or tolerance limit of substances, which are used
during their production process but are not their intended ingredients.

Example: Salt level in cement, or sulphur level in gasoline, must be below specified amount.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 91

B22 Restricted use of certain substances

Restriction on the use of certain substances as components or material to prevent the risks
arising from their use.

Examples: (a) Restricted use of solvents in paints, (b) maximum level of lead allowed in consumer

B3 Labelling, marking and packaging requirements

B31 Labelling requirements

Measures regulating the kind, colour and size of printing on packages and labels and defining
the information that should be provided to the consumer. Labelling is any written, electronic,
or graphic communication on the packaging or on a separate but associated label, or on the
product itself. It may include requirements on the official language to be used as well as technical
information on the product, such as voltage, components, instruction on use, safety and security

Example: Refrigerators need to carry a label indicating its size, weight and electricity consumption

B32 Marking requirements

Measures defining the information for transport and customs that the transport/distribution
packaging of goods should carry.

Example: Handling or storage conditions according to type of product, typically signs such as
“FRAGILE” or “THIS SIDE UP”. must be marked on the transport container.

B33 Packaging requirements

Measures regulating the mode in which goods must be or cannot be packed, and defining the
packaging materials to be used.

Example: Palletized containers or special packages need to be used for the protection of
sensitive or fragile products.

B4 Production or post-production requirements

B41 TBT regulations on production processes

Requirement on production processes not classified under SPS above. It also excludes those
specific measures under B2: Tolerance limits for residues and restricted use of substances
(or its subcategories).

Example: Use of environmentally friendly equipment is mandatory.

B42 TBT regulations on transport and storage

Requirements on certain conditions under which products should be stored and/or transported.

Example: Medicines should be stored below a certain temperature.

B49 Production or post-production requirements, n.e.s.

B6 Product identity requirement

Conditions to be satisfied in order to identify a product with a certain denomination (including biological
or organic labels).

Example: In order for a product to be identified as “chocolate”, it must contain a minimum of 30%


B7 Product-quality or -performance requirement

Conditions to be satisfied in terms of performance (e.g. durability, hardness) or quality (e.g. content of
defined ingredients).

Example: Door must resist a certain minimum high temperature.

B8 Conformity assessment related to TBT

Requirement for verification that a given TBT requirement has been met: This could be achieved by one
or combined forms of inspection and approval procedure, including procedures for sampling, testing and
inspection; evaluation, verification and assurance of conformity; accreditation and approval.

B81 Product registration requirement

Product registration requirement in the importing country.

Example: Only the registered drugs and medicine may be imported.

B82 Testing requirement

A requirement for products to be tested against a given regulation, such as performance level –
includes sampling requirement.

Example: A testing on a sample of motor vehicle imports is required against the required safety
compliance and its equipment, etc.

B83 Certification requirement

Certification of conformity with a given regulation: required by the importing country but may be
issued in the exporting or the importing country.

Example: Certificate of conformity for electric products is required.

B84 Inspection requirement

Requirement for product inspection in the importing country – may be performed by public or
private entities. It is similar to testing, but does not include laboratory testing.

Example: Textile and clothing imports must be inspected for size and materials used before entry
is allowed.

B85 Traceability information requirements

Disclosure requirement of information that allows following a product through the stages of
production, processing and distribution .

B851 Origin of materials and parts

Disclosure of information on the origin of materials and parts used in the final product.

Example: Manufactures of automobiles must keep the record of the origin of the original
set of tyres for each individual vehicle.

B852 Processing history

Disclosure of information on all stages of production: may include their locations,
processing methods and/or equipment and materials used.

Example: For wool apparel products, disclosure of information on the origin of the
sheep, location of the textile factory as well as the identity of the final apparel producer
may be required.

B853 Distribution and location of products after delivery

Disclosure of information on when and/or how the goods have been distributed during
any time after the production and before the final consumption.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 93

Example: Before placing imported cosmetic products on the EU market, the person
responsible must indicate to the competent authority of the Member State where the
products were initially imported, the address of the manufacturer or the address of the

B859 Traceability requirements, n.e.s.

B89 Conformity assessment related to TBT, n.e.s.

B9 TBT measures, n.e.s.


C1 Pre-shipment inspection

Compulsory quality, quantity and price control of goods prior to shipment from the exporting country,
conducted by an independent inspecting agency mandated by the authorities of the importing country.

Example: A pre-shipment inspection of textile imports by a third party for verification of colours and
types of materials is required.

C2 Direct consignment requirement

Requirement that goods must be shipped directly from the country of origin, without stopping at a third

Example: Goods imported under a preferential scheme such as GSP must be shipped directly from
the country of origin in order to satisfy the scheme’s rules of origin condition. (i.e. to guarantee that the
products have not been manipulated, substituted or further processed in any third country of transit).

C3 Requirement to pass through specified port of customs

Obligation for imports to pass through a designated entry point and/or customs office for inspection,
testing, etc.

Example: DVD players need to be cleared at a designated customs office for inspection.

C4 Import-monitoring and -surveillance requirements and other automatic licensing

Administrative measures which seek to monitor the import value or volume of specified products.

Example: An automatic import licence is required as an administrative procedure for textile and apparel
prior to importation.

C9 Other formalities, n.e.s.


Measures implemented to counteract particular adverse effects of imports in the market of the importing
country, including measures aimed at unfair foreign trade practices, contingent upon the fulfilment of certain

procedural and substantive requirements.

D1 Antidumping measure

A border measure applied to imports of a product from an exporter. These imports are dumped and are
causing injury to the domestic industry producing a like product, or to third countries’ exporters of that
product. Dumping takes place when a product is introduced into the commerce of an importing country
at less than its normal value, generally where the export price of the product is less than the comparable


price, in the ordinary course of trade, for the like product when destined for consumption in the exporting
country. Antidumping measures may take the form of antidumping duties, or of price undertakings by
the exporting firms.

D11 Antidumping investigation

An investigation initiated and conducted either following a complaint by the domestic industry producing
a like product or (in special circumstances) self-initiated by importing country authorities to determine
whether dumping of a product is occurring and injuring national producers (or a third country’s exporters)
of the like product. Provisional duties may be applied during the investigation.

Example: An antidumping investigation was initiated by the European Union in respect of imports of
steel wire rod from country A.

D12 Antidumping duty

A duty levied on imports of a particular good originating from a specific trading partner to offset
injurious dumping found to exist via an investigation. Duty rates are generally enterprise-specific.

Example: An antidumping duty of between 8.5 to 36.2% has been imposed on imports of
biodiesel products from country A.

D13 Price undertaking

An undertaking by an exporter to increase its export price (by not more than the amount of the
dumping margin) to avoid the imposition of antidumping duties. Prices can be negotiated for this
purpose, but only after a preliminary determination that dumped imports are causing injury.

Example: An antidumping case involving flat-rolled products of grain oriented silicon-electrical
steel resulted in the manufacturer undertaking to raise its export price.

D2 Countervailing measure

A border measure applied to imports of a product to offset any direct or indirect subsidy granted by
authorities in an exporting country where subsidized imports of that product from that country are
causing injury to the domestic industry producing the like product in the importing country. Countervailing
measures may take the form of countervailing duties, or of undertakings by the exporting firms or by
authorities of the subsidizing country.

D21 Countervailing investigation

An investigation initiated and conducted either following a complaint by the domestic industry
producing the like product or (in special circumstances) self-initiated by the importing country
authorities to determine whether the imported goods are subsidized and are causing injury to
national producers of the like product.

Example: A countervailing investigation was initiated by Canada in respect of imports of oil
country tubular goods from country A.

D22 Countervailing duty

A duty levied on imports of a particular product to offset the subsidies granted by the exporting
country on the production or trade of that product, where an investigation has found that the
subsidized imports are causing injury to of the domestic industry producing the like product.

Example: A countervailing duty of 44.71% has been imposed by Mexico on imports of dynamic
random access memory (DRAM) semiconductors from country A.

D23 Undertaking

Either an undertaking by an exporter to increase its export price (by not more than the amount of
the subsidy), or an undertaking by the authorities of the subsidizing country to eliminate or limit the
subsidy or take other measures concerning its effects, to avoid the imposition of countervailing
duties. Undertakings can be negotiated only after a preliminary determination that subsidized
imports are causing injury.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 95

Example: A countervailing duty investigation involving palm oil and margarine for puff pastry from
country A resulted in the government of country A undertaking to fully eliminate the subsidy on
that product.

D3 Safeguard measures

D31 General (multilateral) safeguard

A temporary border measure imposed on imports of a product to prevent or remedy serious
injury caused by increased imports of that product and to facilitate adjustment. A country may
take a safeguard action (i.e., temporarily suspend multilateral concessions) in respect of imports
of a product from all sources where an investigation has established that increased imports of
the product are causing or threatening to cause serious injury to the domestic industry that
produces like or directly competitive products. Safeguard measures can take various forms,
including increased duties, quantitative restrictions, and others (e.g. tariff-rate quotas, price-
based measures, special levies, etc.).37

D311 Safeguard investigation

An investigation conducted by the importing country authorities to determine whether
the goods in question are being imported in such increased quantities and under such
conditions as to cause or threaten to cause serious injury to national producers of like or
directly competitive products.

Example: Country A has initiated a safeguard investigation on imports of certain

D312 Safeguard duty

A temporary duty levied on imports of a particular product to prevent or remedy serious
injury from increased imports (as established in an investigation), and to facilitate
adjustment. Where the expected duration of the measure is more than one year, it must
be progressively liberalized during the period of application.

Example: A safeguard duty of three years’ duration has been imposed on imports of
“Gamma Ferric Oxide”. The level will be 15% during the first year, 10% during the second
year, and 5% during the third year.

D313 Safeguard quantitative restriction

A temporary quantitative restriction on imports of a particular product to prevent or
remedy serious injury from increased imports (as established in an investigation) and
to facilitate adjustment. Rules apply regarding the overall level and the allocation of the
quota. Where the expected duration of the measure is more than one year, it must be
progressively liberalized during the period of application.

Example: A quantitative safeguard measure (quota) of three years’ duration has been
implemented on imports of certain steel products. The total level will be 10,000 tons the
first year, 15,000 tons the second year and 22,000 tons the third year.

D314 Safeguard measure, other form

A safeguard measure in a form other than a duty or quantitative restriction (which could
include measures combining duties and quantitative elements), applied to prevent or
remedy serious injury from increased imports (as established in an investigation) and to
facilitate adjustment. Where the expected duration of the measure is more than one year,
it must be progressively liberalized during the period of application.

37 Although quantitative restrictions are prohibited by the WTO Agreements, under the Agreement on Safeguards, safeguard
measures in this form are permitted, subject to certain conditions.


Example: A safeguard measure of two years’ duration is imposed on imports of
dishwashers. During the first year, a safeguard measure of $50 per unit will be applied to
all imported dishwashers with a c.i.f. price below $500 per unit. During the second year,
the safeguard measure will not apply to the first 20,000 units of imports, regardless of
the prices of those units.

D32 Agricultural special safeguard

An agricultural special safeguard allows the imposition of an additional tariff in response to a surge
in imports or a fall in import prices. The specific trigger levels for volume or price of imports are
defined at the country level. In the case of the volume trigger, the additional duties only apply until
the end of the year in question. In the case of price triggers, the additional duty is imposed on a
shipment by shipment basis.

D321 Volume-based agricultural special safeguard

In this type of safeguard, an additional duty may be applied if the volume of imports of
designated agricultural product exceeds a defined trigger quantity.

Example: An additional duty equal to one third the current applied duty is applied to
imports of milk when the volume of imports exceeds the trigger volume of 861 tons.

D322 Price-based agricultural special safeguard

In this type of safeguard, an additional duty may be applied if the import price of a
designated agricultural product falls below a defined trigger price.

Example: An additional duty of 2.79 Php/kg is applied to a shipment of frozen meat
and offal of fowls of the species Gallus domesticus when the c.i.f. import price of that
shipment is 20% below the trigger price of 93 Php/kg.

D39 Safeguard, n.e.s.

This category could include, e.g., special safeguard mechanisms applicable to imports of a
product under regional trade arrangements, protocols of accession, or other agreements.


Control measures generally aimed at restraining the quantity of goods that can be imported, regardless of
whether they come from different sources or one specific supplier. These measures can take the form of non-
automatic licensing, fixing of a predetermined quota, or through prohibitions.38 All measures introduced for
SPS and TBT reasons are classified in chapters A and B above.

E1 Non-automatic import-licensing procedures other than authorizations for SPS or TBT

An import-licensing procedure introduced, for reasons other than SPS or TBT reasons, where approval
is not granted in all cases. The approval may either be granted on a discretionary basis or may require
specific criteria to be met before it is granted.

E11 Licensing for economic reasons

E111 Licensing procedure with no specific ex ante criteria

Licensing procedure where approval is granted at the discretion of the issuing authority:
may also be referred to as a discretionary licence.

38 Most quantity control measures are formally prohibited by the GATT 1994, but can be applied under specifically determined
circumstances (e.g. article XI of GATT 1994; Agreement on Safeguards.).

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 97

Example: Imports of textile products are subject to a discretionary licence.

E112 Licensing for specified use

Licensing procedure where approval is granted only for imports of products to be used
for pre-specified purpose: normally granted for use in operations generating anticipated
benefit in important domains of the economy.

Example: A licence to import high-energy explosives is granted only if it is used for the
mining industry.

E113 Licensing linked with local production

Licensing only for imports of products with linkage to local production, including the local
production level of the same product, except for such licensing classified as trade-related
investment measures defined under Chapter I.

Example: A license to import gasoline is granted only if domestic supply is insufficient.

E119 Licensing for economic reasons, n.e.s.

E12 Licensing for non-economic reasons

E121 Licensing for religious, moral or cultural reasons

Control of imports by licence for religious, moral or cultural reasons.

Example: Imports of alcoholic beverages are permitted only by hotels and restaurants.

E122 Licensing for political reasons

Control of imports by licence for political reasons.

Example: Imports of all products from a given country are subject to an import license.

E129 Licensing for non-economic reasons, n.e.s.

E2 Quotas

Restriction of importation of specified products through the setting of a maximum quantity or value that
is authorized for import: No imports are allowed beyond those maximums.

E21 Permanent

Quotas of a permanent nature (i.e. they are applied throughout the year, without a known date of
termination of the measure) where the importation can take place any time of the year.

E211 Global allocation

Permanent quotas where no condition is attached to the country of origin of the product.

Example: A quota of 100 tons of fish where the importation can take place any time of
the year and there is no restriction on the country of origin of the product.

E212 Country allocation

Permanent quotas where a fixed volume or value of the product must originate in one or
more countries.

Example: A quota of 100 tons of fish that can be imported any time of the year, but
where 75 tons must originate in country A and 25 tons in country B.

E22 Seasonal quotas

Quotas of a permanent nature (i.e. they are applied every year, without a known date of termination
of the measure), where the importation must take place during a given period of the year.

E221 Global allocation

Seasonal quotas where no condition is attached to the country of origin of the product.


Example: An annual quota of 300 tons of seaweed where the importation must take
place between March and June and there is no restriction on the country of origin of the

E222 Country allocation

Seasonal quotas where a fixed volume or value of the product must originate in one or
more countries.

Example: An annual quota of 300 tons of seaweed where the importation must take
place during winter and 60 tons must originate in country A, and 40 tons in country B.

E23 Temporary

Quotas that are applied for on a temporary basis (e.g. they are only applied for one or two years),
whether or not they are also seasonal in nature.

E231 Global allocation

Temporary quotas where no condition is attached to the country of origin of the product.

Example: An annual quota of 1,000 tons of fish and fish meat that will only be applied for
three years where there is no restriction on the country of origin of the product.

E232 Country allocation

Temporary quotas where a fixed volume or value of the product must originate in one or
more countries.

Example: An annual quota of 1,000 tons of fish and fish meat that will only be applied
for three years, where the imports must take place during the summer, and 700 tons
must originate in country A, 200 tons must originate in country B and the remainder can
originate in any country.

E3 Prohibitions other than for SPS and TBT reasons

Prohibition on the importation of specific products for reasons other than SPS (A1) or TBT (B1) reasons.

E31 Prohibition for economic reasons

E311 Full prohibition (import ban)

Prohibition without any additional condition or qualification

Example: Imports of motor vehicle with cylinder under 1500cc are not allowed, to
encourage domestic production.

E312 Seasonal prohibition

Prohibition of imports during a given period of the year: This is usually applied to certain
agricultural products while the domestic harvest is in abundance.

Example: Imports of strawberries are not allowed from March to June each year.

E313 Temporary prohibition, including suspension of issuance of licences

Prohibition set for a given fixed period of time unrelated to a specific season: usually for
urgent matters not covered under the safeguard measures above.

Example: Imports of certain fish are prohibited with immediate effect until the end of the
current season.

E314 Prohibition of importation in bulk

Prohibition of importation in a large-volume container: Importation is only authorized if
the product is packed in a small retail container, which increases per unit cost of imports.

Example: Import of wine is allowed only in a bottle of 750 ml or less.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 99

E315 TProhibition of products infringing patents or other intellectual property rights

Prohibition of copies or imitations of patented or trademarked products.

Example: Import of imitation brand handbags is prohibited.

E316 Prohibition of used, repaired or remanufactured goods

Prohibition to import goods that are not new.

Example: Prohibition to import used cars.

E319 Prohibition for economic reasons, n.e.s.

E32 Prohibition for non-economic reasons

E321 Prohibition for religious, moral or cultural reasons

Prohibition of imports for religious, moral or cultural reasons not established in technical

Example: Imports of books and magazines displaying pornographic pictures are

E322 Prohibition for political reasons (embargo)

Prohibition of imports from a country or group of countries, applied for political reasons.

Example: Imports of all goods from country A are prohibited in retaliation to that country’s
testing of nuclear bombs.

E329 Prohibition for non-economic reasons, n.e.s.

E5 Export-restraint arrangement

An arrangement by which an exporter agrees to limit exports in order to avoid imposition of restrictions
by the importing country, such as quotas, raised tariffs or any other import controls.39 The arrangement
may be concluded at either the government or industry level.

E51 Voluntary export-restraint arrangements (VERs)

Arrangements made by government or industry of an exporting country to voluntarily limit exports
in order to avoid imposition of mandatory restrictions by the importing country. Typically, VERs are a
result of requests made by the importing country to provide a measure of protection for its domestic
businesses that produce substitute goods.

E511 Quota agreement

A VER agreement that establishes export quotas.

Example: A bilateral quota on export of motor vehicles from country A to country B was
established to avoid sanction by the latter.

E512 Consultation agreement

A VER agreement that provides for consultation with a view to introducing restrictions (quotas)
under certain circumstances.

Example: An agreement was reached to restrict export of cotton from country C to
country D in case the volume of export exceeds $2 million tons in the previous month.

E513 Administrative cooperation agreement

A VER agreement that provides for administrative cooperation with a view to avoiding
disruptions in bilateral trade.

39 Such arrangements are formally prohibited by the WTO Agreements.


Example: An agreement was reached between country E and country F to cooperate to
prevent a sudden surge in exports.

E59 Export-restraint arrangements, n.e.s.

E6 Tariff-rate quotas (TRQ)

A system of multiple tariff rates applicable to a same product: The lower rates apply up to a certain value
or volume of imports, and the higher rates are charged on imports which exceed this amount.

Example: Rice may be imported free of duty up to the first 100,000 tons, after which it is subject to a
tariff rate of $1.5 per kg.

E61 WTO-bound TRQs, included in WTO schedules (concessions and commitments under
WTO negotiations)

E611 Global allocation

WTO-bound TRQs where no condition is attached to the country of origin of the product.

Example: A WTO TRQ provides for duty-free import of milk and cream up to 2,000 tons
with no condition attached to the country of origin.

E612 Country allocation

WTO-bound TRQs where a fixed volume or value of the product must originate in one or
more countries.

Example: A WTO TRQ of 200,000 tons of poultry with an in-quota duty of 12% is
available, and half of the quantity must originate from country A.

E62 Other TRQs included in other trade agreements.

E621 Global allocation

Non-WTO TRQs where no condition is attached to the country of origin of the product.

Example: A non-WTO TRQ is available for 40,000 tons of beef with no condition attached
to the country of origin.

E622 Country allocation

Non-WTO bound TRQs where a fixed volume or value of the product must originate in
one or more countries.

Example: Fresh bananas from country A can be imported duty free up to 4,000 tons.

E9 Quantity control measures, n.e.s.


Measures implemented to control or affect the prices of imported goods in order to, inter alia, support the
domestic price of certain products when the import prices of these goods are lower; establish the domestic
price of certain products because of price fluctuation in domestic markets, or price instability in a foreign
market; or to increase or preserve tax revenue. This category also includes measures other than tariffs
measures that increase the cost of imports in a similar manner, i.e. by fixed percentage or by a fixed amount.
They are also known as para-tariff measures.

F1 Administrative measures affecting customs value

Setting of import prices by the authorities of the importing country by taking into account the domestic
prices of the producer or consumer. It could take the form of establishing floor- and ceiling-price limits;
or reverting to determined international market values. There may be different price setting, such as
minimum import prices or prices set according to a reference.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 101

F11 Minimum import prices

Pre-established import price below which imports cannot take place.

Example: A minimum import price is established for fabric and apparel.

F12 Reference prices

Pre-established import price which authorities of the importing country use as reference to verify
the price of imports.

Example: Reference prices for agricultural products are based on the farm-gate price, which is
the net value of the product when it leaves the farm, after marketing costs have been subtracted.

F19 Other administrative measures affecting the customs value, n.e.s.

F2 Voluntary export-price restraints (VEPRs)

An arrangement in which the exporter agrees to keep the price of the goods above a certain level:40 A
VEPR process is initiated by the importing country and is thus considered as an import measure.

Example: The export price of video cassette tapes is set higher in order to defuse trade friction with
major importing countries.

F3 Variable charges

Taxes or levies aimed at bringing the market prices of imported products in line with the prices of
corresponding domestic products:41 Primary commodities may be charged per total weight, while
charges on processed foodstuffs can be levied in proportion to the primary product contents in the final
product. These charges include:

F31 Variable levies

A tax or levy whose rate varies inversely with the price of imports to keep a stable price in the
home country: applied mainly to primary products and may be called flexible import fee.

Example: The target price for a seed is $700 per ton; since the world price is $500, there is a levy
for $200. If the world price changed to $600, the levy would change to $100.

F32 Variable components

A tax or levy whose rate includes an ad valorem component and a variable component: These
charges are applied mainly to processed products where the variable part is applied on the primary
products or ingredients included the final product. It may be called compensatory element.

Example: A tariff rate on sugar confectionary is set as “25% plus $25 per kg of contained sugar
minus the price per kg of sugar”.

F39 Variable charges n.e.s

F4 Customs surcharges

An ad hoc tax levied solely on imported products in addition to customs tariff to raise fiscal revenues or
to protect domestic industries.

Example: Customs surcharge, surtax or additional duty.

F5 Seasonal duties

Duties applicable at certain times of the year, usually in connection with agricultural products.

40 These measures are prohibited by the WTO Agreements. Under the Agreements on Antidumping and on Subsidies and
Countervailing Measures, however, measures in the form of price undertakings are permitted under certain conditions. See D13
and D23 for examples.

41 These measures are prohibited by the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, article 4.


Example: Imports of fresh perry pears, in bulk from 1 August to 31 December may enter free of duty,
while in other months, seasonal duties applied.

F6 Additional taxes and charges levied in connection to services provided by the government

Additional charges, which are levied on imported goods in addition to customs duties and surcharges
and which have no internal equivalents.42 They include:

F61 Custom-inspection, -processing and -servicing fees

F62 Merchandise-handling or -storing fees

F63 Tax on foreign exchange transactions

F64 Stamp tax

F65 Import licence fee

F66 Consular invoice fee

F67 Statistical tax

F68 Tax on transport facilities

F69 Additional charges, n.e.s.

F7 Internal taxes and charges levied on imports

Taxes levied on imports that have domestic equivalents.43

F71 Consumption taxes

A tax on sales of products which are generally applied to all or most products.

Example: Sales tax, turnover tax (or multiple sales tax), value added tax.

F72 Excise taxes

A tax imposed on selected types of commodities, usually of a luxurious or non-essential nature.
This tax is levied separately from, and in addition to, the general sales taxes.

Example: Excise tax, tax on alcoholic consumption, cigarette tax.

F73 Taxes and charges for sensitive product categories

Charges that include emission charges, (sensitive) product taxes and administrative charges: The
latter charges are meant to recover the costs of administrative control systems.

Example: CO2 emission charge on motor vehicles.

F79 Internal taxes and charges levied on imports, n.e.s.

F8 Decreed customs valuations

Value of goods determined by a decree for the purpose of imposition of customs duties and other
charges: This practice is presented as a means to avoid fraud or to protect domestic industry. The
decreed value de facto transforms an ad valorem duty into a specific duty.

Example: the so-called “valeur mercuriale” in Francophone countries.

42 It should be noted that article VIII of GATT states that fees and charges other than customs duties and internal taxes “shall be
limited in amount to the approximate cost of services rendered and shall not represent an indirect protection to domestic products
or a taxation of imports or exports for fiscal purposes”.

43 Article III of the GATT Agreement allows internal taxes to be applied to imports; however, these taxes should not be higher than
those applied to similar domestic products.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 103

F9 Price-control measures, n.e.s


Finance measures are intended to regulate the access to and cost of foreign exchange for imports and define
the terms of payment. They may increase import costs in the same manner as tariff measures.

G1 Advance payment requirement

Advance payment requirements related to the value of the import transaction and/or related import
taxes: These payments are made at the time an application is lodged, or when an import licence is
issued. They can consist of:

G11 Advance import deposit

A requirement that the importer should deposit a percentage of the value of the import transaction
before receiving the goods: No interest is paid on the deposits.

Example: Payment of 50% of the transaction value is required three months before the expected
arrival of the goods to the port of entry.

G12 Cash margin requirement

A requirement to deposit the total amount of the transaction value in a foreign currency, or a
specified part of it, in a commercial bank, before the opening of a letter of credit.

Example: Deposit of 100% of the transaction value is required at the designated commercial

G13 Advance payment of customs duties

A requirement to pay all or part of the customs duties in advance: No interest is paid on these
advance payments.

Example: Payment of 100% of the estimated customs duty is required three months before the
expected arrival of the goods to the port of entry.

G14 Refundable deposits for sensitive product categories

A requirement to pay a certain deposit which is refunded when the used product or its container
is returned to a collection system.

Example: A $100-deposit is required for each refrigerator, which will be refunded when brought
in for recycling after use.

G19 Advance payment requirements, n.e.s.

G2 Multiple exchange rates

Varying exchange rates for imports, depending on the product category: Usually, the official rate is
reserved for essential commodities, while the other goods must be paid at commercial rates or
occasionally by buying foreign exchange through auctions.44

Example: Only the payment for infant food and staple food imports may be made at the official exchange

G3 Regulation on official foreign exchange allocation

G31 Prohibition of foreign exchange allocation

No official foreign exchange allocations are available to pay for imports.

Example: Foreign exchange is not allocated for imports of luxury products such as motor
vehicles, TV sets, jewellery, etc.

44 The use of multiple exchange rates is formally prohibited by the GATT 1994.


G32 Bank authorization

A requirement to obtain a special import authorization from the central bank.

Example: For imports of motor vehicles, a central bank permit is required in addition to the
import licence.

G33 Authorization linked with non-official foreign exchange

Licence granted only if non-official foreign exchange is used for the import payment.

G331 External foreign exchange

Licence granted only for imports related to technical assistance projects and other
sources of external foreign exchange.

Example: Imports of construction materials are allowed only if payments may be made
through the foreign direct investment fund.

G332 Importers’ own foreign exchange

Licence granted if the importer holds foreign exchange in an overseas bank.

Example: Imports of textile materials are authorized only if the importer can pay directly
to the exporter with foreign exchange obtained export activity abroad.

G339 Licence linked with non-official foreign exchange, n.e.s.

G39 Regulation on official foreign exchange allocation, n.e.s.

G4 Regulations concerning terms of payment for imports

Regulations related to conditions of payment of imports and the obtaining and use of credit (foreign or
domestic) to finance imports.

Example: No more than 50% of the transaction value can be paid in advance of the arrival of goods to
the port of entry.

G9 Finance measures, n.e.s.


Measures to grant exclusive or special preferences or privileges to one or more limited group of economic

H1 State-trading enterprises, for importing; other selective import channels

H11 State-trading enterprises, for importing

Enterprises (whether or not State-owned or -controlled) with special rights and privileges not
available to other entities, which influence through their purchases and sales the level or direction
of imports of particular products (See also P21).

Example: A statutory marketing board with exclusive rights to control imports of certain grains,
a canalizing agency with an exclusive right to distribute petroleum, a sole importing agency or
importation reserved for specific importers regarding certain categories of goods.

H19 Other selective import channels, n.e.s.

H2 Compulsory use of national services

H21 Compulsory national insurance

A requirement that imports must be insured by a national insurance company.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 105

H22 Compulsory national transport

A requirement that imports must be carried by a national shipping company.

H29 Compulsory national service, n.e.s.

H9 Measures affecting competitions, n.e.s.


I1 Local content measures

Requirements to purchase or use certain minimum levels or types of domestically produced or sourced
products, or restrictions on the purchase or use of imported products based on the volume or value of
exports of local products.

Example: In the production of automobiles, locally produced components must account for at least
50% of the value of the components used.

I2 Trade-balancing measures

Restrictions on the importation of products used in or related to local production, including in relation
to the amount of local products exported; or limitations on access to foreign exchange used for such
importation based on the foreign exchange inflows attributable to the enterprise in question.

Example: A company may import materials and other products only up to 80% of its export earnings
of the previous year.

I9 Trade-related investment measures, n.e.s


Distribution of goods inside the importing country may be restricted. It may be controlled through additional
license or certification requirements.47

J1 Geographical restriction

Restriction to limit the sales of goods to certain areas within the importing country.

Example: Imported beverages may only be sold in cities having a facility to recycle the containers.

J2 Restriction on resellers

Restriction to limit the sales of imported products by designated retailers.

Example: Exporters of motor vehicles need to set up their own retail points, as existing car dealers in
the destination country belong exclusively to car producers in that country.


Measures restricting producers of exported goods to provide post-sales service in the importing country.

Example: After-sales servicing on exported TV sets must be provided by a local service company of the
importing country.

45 Subject to certain exceptions, the measures listed in I1-I2 are inconsistent with the TRIMs Agreement (respectively, the obligations of
national treatment under article III and general elimination of QRs under article XI of GATT 1994). See Illustrative List annexed to the TRIMs

46 Trade-related investment measures in the form of export restrictions are included in category P1.
47 These restrictions are closely related to regulations of distribution services.


L SUBSIDIES (excluding export subsidies under P7)

Financial contribution by a government or public body, or via government entrustment or direction of a private
body (direct or potential direct transfer of funds: e.g. grant, loan, equity infusion, guarantee; government
revenue foregone; provision of goods or services or purchase of goods; payments to a funding mechanism),
or income or price support, which confers a benefit and is specific (to an enterprise or industry or group
thereof, or limited to a designated geographical region).

Example: The government provides producers of chemicals a one-time cash grant to replace antiquated
production equipment.

Note: This category is to be further subdivided after further study on the subject.


Measures controlling the purchase of goods by government agencies, generally by preferring national

Example: A government office has a traditional supplier of its office equipment requirement, in spite of higher
prices than similar foreign suppliers.


Measures related to intellectual property rights in trade: Intellectual property legislation covers patents,
trademarks, industrial designs, layout designs of integrated circuits, copyright, geographical indications and
trade secrets.

Example: Clothing with unauthorized use of trademark is sold at much lower price than the authentic products.


Rules of origin cover laws, regulations and administrative determinations of general application applied by
government of importing countries to determine the country of origin of goods. Rules of origin are important
in implementing trade policy instruments such as antidumping and countervailing duties, origin marking and
safeguard measures.

Example: Machinery products produced in a country are difficult to fulfil the rules of origin to qualify for the
reduced tariff rate of the importing country, as the parts and materials originate in different countries.


Export-related measures are measures applied by the government of the exporting country on exported

P1 Export-license, -quota, -prohibition and other quantitative restrictions48

Restrictions to the quantity of goods exported to a specific country or countries by the government of the
exporting country for reasons such as a shortage of goods in the domestic market, regulating domestic
prices, avoiding antidumping measures or for political reasons.49

P11 Export prohibition

Prohibition of exports of certain products.

Example: Export of corn is prohibited because of a shortage in domestic consumption.

48 Trade-related investment measures in the form of export restrictions are included in this category.
49 All of these measures are formally prohibited by GATT 1994, but may be applied under specific situations identified in article XI of

GATT 1994.

Annex: Classification of non-tariff measures 107

P12 Export quotas

Quotas that limit value or volume of exports.

Example: An export quota of beef is established to guarantee adequate supply in the domestic

P13 Licensing- or permit requirements to export

A requirement to obtain a licence or a permit by the government of the exporting country to
export products.

Example: Exports of diamond ores are subject to licensing by the Ministry.

P14 Export registration requirements

A requirement to register products before being exported (for monitoring purposes).

Example: Pharmaceutical products need to be registered before being exported.

P19 Export quantitative restrictions, n.e.s.

P2 State-trading enterprises, for exporting; other selective export channels

P21 State-trading enterprises, for exporting

Enterprises (whether or not State-owned or -controlled) with special rights and privileges not
available to other entities, which influence through their purchases and sales the level or direction
of exports of particular products (See also H1).

Example: An export monopoly board, to take advantage of terms of sale abroad; a marketing
board, to promote for export on behalf of a large number of small farmers.

P29 Other selective export channels, n.e.s.

P3 Export price-control measures

Measures implemented to control the prices of exported products.

Example: Different prices for exports are applied from the same product sold in the domestic market
(dual pricing schemes).

P4 Measures on re-export

Measures applied by the government of the exporting country on exported goods which have originally
been imported from abroad.

Example: Re-export of wines and spirits back to the producing county is prohibited. The practice is
common in cross-border trade to avoid imposition of domestic excise tax in the producing country.

P5 Export taxes and charges

Taxes collected on exported goods by the government of the exporting country: they can be set either
on a specific or an ad valorem basis.

Example: An export duty on crude petroleum is levied for revenue purposes.

P6 Export technical measures

Export regulations referring to the technical specification of products and conformity assessment
systems thereof:

P61 Inspection requirement

Control over the quality or other characteristics of products for export.

Example: Exports of processed food products must be inspected for sanitary conditions.


P62 Certification required by the exporting country

Requirement by the exporting country to obtain sanitary, phytosanitary or other certification before
the goods are exported.

Example: Export of live animals must carry individual health certificates.

P69 Export technical measures, n.e.s.

P7 Export subsidies

Financial contribution by a government or public body, or via government entrustment or direction of
a private body (direct or potential direct transfer of funds: e.g. grant, loan, equity infusion, guarantee;
government revenue foregone; provision of goods or services or purchase of goods; payments to a
funding mechanism), or income or price support, which confers a benefit and is contingent in law or in fact
upon export performance (whether solely or as one of several conditions), including measures illustrated
in annex I of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and measures described in the
Agreement on Agriculture.

Example: All manufacturers in country A are exempt from income tax on their export profits.

P8 Export credits

P9 Export measures, n.e.s.

Since 1999, the Trade Analysis Branch of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services,
and Commodities of UNCTAD has been carrying out policy-oriented analytical work aimed at improving
the understanding of current and emerging issues in international trade and development. In order to
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questionnaire and return to:

Trade Analysis Branch, DITC
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Palais des Nations, Rm. E-8065
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland


1. Name and address of respondent (optional):

2. Which of the following describes your area of work?

Government Public enterprise

Private enterprise institution Academic or research

International organization Media

Not-for-profit organization Other (specify) _________________

3. In which country do you work? _________________________________________

4. Did you find this publication Very useful Of some use Little use
to your work?

5. What is your assessment of the contents of this publication?

Excellent Good Adequate Poor

6. Other comments:


Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries

Readership Survey

This publication by the UNCTAD secretariat is an effort to improve
existing knowledge on relevant issues related to non-tariff measures,
with particular attention to those more relevant for developing countries.
A better understanding of non-tariff measures will help policymakers
to formulate appropriate policy responses and direct the necessary
technical and financial resources to where they are needed. It will
also contribute to more balanced international trade agreements and
improved multilateral dialogue on trade policy issues. I am confident
that this study will assist UNCTAD member States to strengthen their
capacity to conduct more efficient trade policies for development.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD








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