Data Collection


As of 2018, UNCTAD has collected comprehensive and comparable NTM data in 109 countries, containing more than 65.000 measures. This data collection is a resource intensive task.

First, unlike tariffs, NTM data are not mere numbers. On the contrary, the relevant information stems from legal and regulatory documents, whose regulations data collectors need to categorize according to the International Classification of NTMs.

Second, legal and regulatory documents may only be available in local language, requiring an in-depth knowledge of their context and mandate.

Lastly, these documents are generally not centralized but often reside in different regulatory agencies. To harmonize the NTM data collection process and to minimize uncertainty during the process of categorization and classification, UNCTAD provides Guidelines to Collect Data on Official NTMs.

UNCTAD also offers a free online Training Course on NTM Data Collection, with hands-on examples and case studies.


UNCTAD began to collect and categorize NTMs in 1994, according to a customized Coding System of Trade Control Measures (TCMCS). At the same time, it developed the Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) database, 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.

Growing complexity and interest by both researchers and policymakers in international trade regulations led to the overhaul of TRAINS in 2006. To develop a strategy to reduce the transparency gap, UNCTAD established the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-tariff Barriers in the same year, composed of leading economists from international organizations. A Multi-agency Support Team provided substantial support. As a result, UNCTAD, the African Development Bank, the International Trade Centre and the World Bank launched the Transparency in Trade initiative (TNT). To date, UNCTAD has been leading the work on NTM data collection, benefiting from support by several partners and donors.


Data collection on NTMs requires the classification of legal documents — regulations, directives, rules, and the like — to appropriate predefined NTM codes.  These codes follow the International Classification of NTMs, which enables a comprehensive and comparable collection, analysis and dissemination of NTM data. A recurring problem for data collectors is that legal documents and regulations on NTMs are often based on legal and/or technical terms, which may render it difficult to univocally assign the most appropriate code. For data collectors, some interpretation is often required when classifying the measures described in the legal documents and regulations according to the predefined NTMs codes.

The purpose of the manual below is to provide guidelines to data collectors to harmonize the NTM data collection process and to minimize uncertainty during the process of categorization and classification. In doing so, the manual presents the logic behind the International Classification of NTMs, and it explains how to choose the most appropriate code. This manual provides a large set of examples, and it is regularly updated to respond to queries and questions emerging during the data collection exercise. This manual has been created with the intention of covering as many cases as possible. However, if uncertainties persist, data collectors are encouraged to submit their questions to, providing also a copy of the legal text and stating the proposed code.

Guidelines to collect data on NTMs


African Development Bank (AfDB)

African Development BankThe African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is a multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries.

The AfDB's mission is to fight poverty and improve living conditions on the continent through promoting the investment of public and private capital in projects and programs.

The AfDB is a financial provider to African governments and private companies investing in the regional member countries.



AladiThe Latin American Integration Association / Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración / Associação Latino-Americana de Integração (LAIA / ALADI) is a regional organization. The ALADI promotes the establishment of an area of economic preferences within the region, in order to create a Latin-American common market, through three mechanisms: (i) A Regional Tariff Preference, (ii) Regional Scope Agreements, (all member countries participate), and (iii) Partial Scope Agreements, (two or more countries of the area participate)

The ALADI is an institutional and legal framework or "umbrella" of the regional integration; it develops actions in order to support and foster these efforts for the progressive establishment of a common economic space. ALADI also offers technical support to help members to facilitate negotiations to achieve regional integration.


ERIA (ASEAN)The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia or ERIA is an international organization established in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2008 by a formal agreement among Leaders of 16 countries in the East Asian region to conduct research activities and make policy recommendations for further economic integration in the East Asia. ERIA works very closely with both the ASEAN Secretariat and 16 Research Institutes to undertake and disseminate policy research under the three pillars, namely : (i) Deepening Economic Integration, (ii) Narrowing Development Gaps, and (iii) Sustainable Development, and provide analytical policy recommendations to Leaders and Ministers at their regional meetings.


The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)Located in Tokyo, The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) is an international premier policy school with the aim of contributing to the betterment of democratic governance around the world.

It provides interdisciplinary education for future leaders in the public sector and conduct research on contemporary policy issues to generate innovative solutions.


Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy is a government-funded research institute established to conduct studies, research and analyses of global economic issues that impact the Korean economy, and to help guide the nation toward effective international economic policies.

Role and Responsibilities:

  • Development of international economic policy measures.

  • Basic research on global regions.

  • Training of experts on the international economy.

  • Research on international economic policies:Trade and commerce, international financial cooperation,international investment and regional studies.

  • Outsourcing for global economy research.

  • Data research and analysis on international economic trends and policies in the global economy and key economic regions.


International Trade Centre (ITC)

International Trade Centre (ITC)The International Trade Centre, [French: Centre du commerce international (CCI)] is a subsidiary organization of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and provides trade-related technical assistance.

ITC's mandate is concerned with helping (so-called) developing and transition economies to promote their exports. The pure focus on technical assistance is rare within the UN system as most other organizations that provide technical assistance usually engage in multiple areas and kinds of assistance.

ITC has its headquarters in Geneva and one field office in Mexico City.


TNT transparency in trade initiative

TNT transparency in trade initiativeThe African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Bank are forming a partnership called Transparency in Trade (TNT).

This aims to facilitate collection of tariffs and non-tariff measures (NTM) and other trade data, harmonization of NTMs, and provide free and open access the data collected. Key elements include open access to a series of trade-related tools and underlying databases.

These are World Bank and UNCTAD's World Integrated Trade System (WITS), ITC's Market Access Map (MAcMap), World Bank's Temporary Trade Barrier Database (TTBD) and Service Policy Restrictive Database (SPRD).


United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

ESCAPUnited Nations ESCAP facilitates research, capacity building and intergovernmental cooperation on trade and investment for sustainable development among its 62 member and associate member States.

It provides support on regional trade policy, negotiation and facilitation through various intergovernmental and knowledge platforms, including the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (FA-CPT) and the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT).

ESCAP works in close partnership with UNCTAD and other MAST Group members to collect data on non-tariff measures in Asia and the Pacific, as well as to develop new indicators of non-tariff measures (NTMs) that link NTMs to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a complement to the ESCAP-World Bank Trade Cost database, ESCAP also maintains estimates of the bilateral trade costs of NTMs, based on UNCTAD TRAINS data.


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

United Nations Economic Commission for EuropeA regional commission of the United Nations, UNECE is a multilateral platform for supporting greater economic integration and cooperation among its fifty-six member States through: policy dialogue; negotiation of international legal instruments; development of regulations and norms; exchange and application of best practices as well as economic and technical expertise; and technical cooperation for countries with economies in transition.

These activities are geared to support the achievement of economic prosperity in a manner that is consistent with the 2030 Agenda. Trade-related activities also feature evidence-based analysis of non-tariff barriers and their implication for export competitiveness and structural transformation


World Bank

World BankThe World Bank offers finance and technical assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and support development.  The World Bank Group comprises five institutions managed by their member countries.  The World Bank Group has set two goals for the world to achieve by 2030: (i) End extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.90 a day to no more than 3%, and (ii) Promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40% for every country

WB provides financing or co-financing through low-interest loans, zero to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries to support investments in such areas as education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, and environmental and natural resource management.

WB offers support to developing countries through policy advice, research and analysis, and technical assistance. The analytical work often underpins World Bank financing and helps inform developing countries' own investments.



WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

It offers technical support to assist WTO members to ensure, among other things, that negotiations progress smoothly, and that the rules of international trade are correctly applied and enforced.

All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole, presently 164 members.

All agreements support these principles: i) Non-discrimination; ii) More open and Lowering trade barriers ; iii) Predictable and transparent; iv) More competitive, discouraging 'unfair' practices; v) More beneficial for less developed countries, by giving them more time to adjust; vi) Protect the environment.




Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)

Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) manages Canada's diplomatic and consular relations, encourages the country's international trade and leads Canada's international development and humanitarian assistance. 

With a new legislated mandate defined in 2013, DFATD's development and humanitarian assistance programs contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. Its priority themes are: increasing food security, securing the future of children and youth, stimulating sustainable economic growth, advancing democracy, and ensuring security and stability.



European commission

European commissionThe European Commission is the executive of the European Union and promotes its general interest. 

The Commission's main roles are to: i) propose legislation for the EU; ii) enforce European law;  iii) set a objectives and priorities for action, outlined yearly in the Commission Work Programme and work towards delivering them;
iv) manage and implement EU policies and the budget; v) represent the Union outside Europe (including negotiating trade agreements between the EU and other countries). 
It also offers international Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Civil Protection.



Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)The Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is responsible within the German Federal Government for development policy. Founded in 1961, the BMZ carries out a multitude of tasks.

These include planning and programming German development cooperation, cooperating with civil society and the private sector, cooperating with partner countries and with multilateral organisations, and carrying out development information and education work. BMZ has been supporting UNCTAD's work on non-tariff barriers elimination and regulatory transparency in the African Continental Free Trade Area.









Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)The International Cooperation group of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is an implementing organisation of development cooperation contracted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union.

It promotes the improvement of the framework conditions for economic, social and ecological action and therefore supports developing and emerging countries in the development and use of a needs-based and internationally recognised quality infrastructure. PTB has been supporting UNCTAD's work on regulatory transparency in the Member States / State Parties of the African Continental Free Trade Area.



United States

United States