While many forms of non-tariff measures have long existed, their use as a means of regulating trade has been proliferating in variety and in the number of countries adopting them.
Such non-tariff measures currently include a very diverse array of policies that countries apply to imported and exported goods. Some are manifestly employed as instruments of commercial policy (such as quotas, subsidies, trade-defense measures, and export restrictions), while others stem from non-trade policy objectives (including sanitary and phytosanitary concerns). Whatever their intent, such measures have broad implications for developing country exports, as the ability to gain reliable market access increasingly depends on compliance measures that are beyond the realm of traditional trade policies.
Given non-tariff measures' heterogeneity in purpose, scope, and implementation mechanisms, many of these measures impose diverse costs (and benefits) on different actors, therefore resulting in distortionary and discriminatory effects on international trade. The publication points out that non-tariff measures currently have more restrictive effects on trade than do traditional tariffs.
Despite their growing relevance, the impact of non-tariff measures on international trade, or more generally on economic development, is not always well understood, as analysis of such measures has not kept pace with their increasing complexity.
"Non-tariff Measures to Trade: Economic and Policy Issues for Developing Countries" is a contribution by the UNCTAD secretariat to help close this knowledge gap. It represents a further step, in line with the Doha Mandate of the UNCTAD XIII Quadrennial Conference, toward an improved understanding of the use of, and implications of such policy measures.
The publication provides readers with a comprehensive analysis of the use, methods of quantification, and impacts of non-tariff measures on international trade. It also presents policy responses that governments and the international community may consider when addressing core matters relating to the design, negotiation, harmonization, mutual recognition, and implementation of non-tariff measures.