International agencies and experts meet to update classification of non-tariff measures

05 October 2015

As trade policy measures shift, expert's meeting in Geneva took stock of past experiences and discussed future challenges and activities with respect to non-tariff measures.

Leading organizations and experts in trade and non-tariff measures (NTMs) met in Geneva on 28-29 September, to plan an update to the International Classification of NTMs -- policy measures other than ordinary customs tariffs that nevertheless restrict free trade.

UNCTAD has been actively involved in research and programmatic activities on issues related to NTMs through its membership of a Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST), which also includes representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Trade Centre, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

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

The Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, revitalized the MAST by inviting all eight international organizations to come together to continuously work on the important classification. Mr .Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, opened and participated in the two-day expert meeting.

The following objectives were achieved:

  • A discussion on revisions of the NTM taxonomy in well-developed chapters such as Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade.

  • Initiate work on chapters that are currently not disaggregated (Government Procurement, Subsidies, Intellectual Property, Rules of Origin, and Restrictions on Post-Sales Services).

  • Sharing of experience on data collection. Learn from researchers and policy makers what data they need. Get feedback from current users of our NTM database.

Six thematic working groups were created to further develop the International Classification of NTMs. A follow up meeting will take place in May 2016.