UNCTAD's work on Non-Tariff Measures

UNCTAD has been actively involved in research and programmatic activities on issues related to Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) since the early 1980s.

In 1994, it began to collect and classify NTMs according to a customized Coding System of Trade Control Measures (TCMCS). Concurrently, a Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) database was developed by UNCTAD, which subsequently grew into the most complete collection of publicly available information on NTMs. Later, in collaboration with the World Bank, TRAINS became accessible to researchers through the World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) software application.

In an effort to further strengthen the UNCTAD work on NTMs, in 2006, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, established the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Measures.

At the same time, a Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST) was also set up to:

  • Provide a clear and concise definition of NTMs.

  • Develop a classification system of NTMs to facilitate data collection process and analysis.

  • Devise ways to collect efficiently the information on NTMs, taking into account existing mechanism of collecting specific elements of NTMs by each member agency.

  • Provide guidelines for the use of data, including their quantification methodology.

In addition to UNCTAD, the MAST is composed of the following organizations: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO (ITC), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO).

The work of MAST and the subsequent revision to the NTMs Classification were very successful and it has now been very widely accepted as the standard classification for NTMs by the international trade community, including regional and international organizations.


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