International Classification of Non-tariff Measures - 2019 version

Non-tariff measures are generally defined as “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.”

Since this definition is broad, a detailed classification is necessary to better identify and distinguish among the various forms of non-tariff measures.

This edition of the International Classification of Non-tariff Measures is a revision of the 2012 version

The MAST group, which discussed and proposed this classification, is composed of the following organizations:

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • International Trade Centre
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • World Bank
  • WTO

To address the growing complexities of international trade, the MAST group, other experts and government officials refined the 2012 version from 2015–2018. The group revised existing chapters A to I and chapter P and worked on the definition and taxonomy of the classification for chapters J to O, which lacked a disaggregated taxonomy. The MAST group created six open working groups to address the following areas:

  1. General issues: chapters A to I and chapter P; working group chaired by UNCTAD

  2. Post-sales services and distribution restrictions: chapters J and K; working group chaired by the World Bank

  3. Subsidies: chapter L; working group chaired by WTO

  4. Government procurement: chapter M; working group chaired by OECD

  5. Intellectual property: chapter N; working group chaired by UNCTAD

  6. Rules of origin: chapter O; working group chaired by the International Trade Centre

The groups interacted regularly, and progress was presented annually to a wider audience at the UNCTAD Non-tariff Measures Week and MAST meeting, as well as at other trade and regulator meetings. The revised version was adopted by all working groups in 2018/2019.

The work on the chapter dealing with government procurement coincided with efforts by OECD on the development of a taxonomy of measures affecting government procurement as part of its own work programme. Given the commonalities between the projects of the MAST group and those relating to the OECD government procurement classification, both groups worked together closely to develop a government procurement taxonomy.

The World Intellectual Property Organization contributed to the chapter on intellectual property, and the World Customs Organization, to the chapter on rules of origin.