What are Non-tariff barriers?

Broadly, Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) are obstacles to trade which are set up through formal or informal measures, regulations or practices, and not by tariffs. They obstruct trade since they increase the trading cost or frustrate it completely. Examples are: Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS), Technical barriers to Trade (TBT), Price or Quantity Control measures, and others.

There are several groupings of NTBs. These are:

  • SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES
  • TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE
  • OTHER TECHNICAL MEASURES
  • PRICE CONTROL MEASURES
  • QUANTITY CONTROL MEASURES
  • PARA-TARIFF MEASURES
  • FINANCE MEASURES
  • ANTI-COMPETITIVE MEASURES
  • EXPORT RELATED MEASURES
  • TRADE-RELATED INVESTMENT MEASURES
  • DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTIONS
  • RESTRICTION ON POST-SALES SERVICES
  • SUBSIDIES
  • GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT RESTRICTIONS
  • INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
  • RULES OF ORIGIN
NTM classification

What are Procedural obstacles?

  • A NTB measure may be associated with a Procedural Obstacle. For example, "Testing requirement" in the TBT grouping (code B330) may be associated to "INEFFICIENCY OR OBSTRUCTION/ Excessive documentation requirement " (code C1 of Procedural Obstacles)
  • Procedural obstacles are introduced separately from the measures. Each of the procedural obstacles can be associated with virtually any NTM. For example, any barrier arising from the processes of testing, certification, inspection or registration requirements, such as high cost or lengthy process is registered as a procedural obstacle related to the specific measure, so that both, NTB and Procedural Obstacles, combine to have a clearer view on the problem.
  • A procedural obstacle relates to the attributes or operation of a measure or procedure rather than to its principal content or goals. Apart from the measures themselves, trade may be hindered because of procedural obstacles, i.e. the way rules are implemented may be an obstacle, like queuing or discriminatory enforcement of rules. Procedural obstacles can arise from practices that are informal.
  • Hence, one would be able to distinguish between (1) specific types of NTBs that bear on or are even designed to directly limit trade, and (2) problems with the implementation or application of those measures or requirements.
Classification of Procedural Obstacles

Why do we need to distinguish NTB from Procedural Obstacles?

  • By distinguishing the NTBs from the procedural issues, the target issue becomes more precise and by combining them, more detailed information can be drawn. Delay in granting an authorization is not a measure that a country imposes to its partners, but the way that the measure is implemented. Separating both, allows us to better understand the issue.
  • As countries consider what the remaining obstacles to their exporters are, increasingly attention is paid to less traditional non-tariff barriers. Several of these less traditional barriers are addressed by various multilateral trade rules that range from trade-related investment measures to technical barriers to trade. Underlying these agreements is an understanding that, in addition to more traditional NTBs, domestic regulation can be designed, implemented, or enforced in a manner that directly or indirectly restricts trade. It is in the context of domestic regulation and its impact on trade that issues of procedural obstacles to trade have received growing attention from the private sector and policymakers, but their incidence relates also to NTBs at the border.
  • Data on procedural obstacles could be helpful for policymakers and researchers for several reasons. Such data would help identify potential gaps in existing multilateral disciplines already addressing the type of NTM at issue. They could also serve as indicators of capacity weaknesses that countries may experience when faced with the task of implementing commitments in the trade policy field. Furthermore, such data could help advance discussions of good regulatory practice (GRP) and how GRP can contribute to market openness.

Who can submit information to the Trade Barrier Reporter?

  • Importers and exporters engaged in international trade;
  • Other concerned bodies interested in, or working on behalf of, traders, e.g. Chambers of Commerce, consulting firms, etc.
  • Researchers or others involved in the study and analysis of non-tariff measures.

What set of information can you submit?

  • If you are an exporter or intend to become one: We would like to know whether you have faced any problem or difficulty in exporting your products. These can be in the form of measures, regulations, standards, but also informal practices. They may have increased the cost of the transaction, make it more difficult, or even frustrate it completely. These difficulties include non-tariff measures such as duties and taxes, satisfying sanitary requirements, or meeting technical requirement for your product, etc.
  • If you are an importer or intend to become one: Please let us know whether you have encountered any problem or difficulty in obtaining import licenses, paying import duties or taxes when importing from a specific country or group of countries, etc.

What information will be available?

As of early 2008, registered users will be able to access and view data compiled on the complaints submitted by traders. The data could then be used for the purposes of: multilateral surveillance; research; policy advice; assisting exporters; and identifying issues for policymaking, norm setting or future trade negotiations.

What will this information be useful for?

  • To share information with all concerned importers and exporters, particularly on market access conditions;
  • To inform government trade negotiators at the regional or international level on the present barriers to trade, so that they could be eventually relaxed or eliminated since they restrict trade unnecessarily;
  • To provide technical assistance to producers/exporters in developing countries in order to build capacity to meet regulations and standards or norms.