Examples of Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade

The strive for trade liberalisation has been on the upswing since the constitution of the World Trade Organisation ( WTO ) following the dialogues undergone at the Uruguay Round in 1995. The WTO, which counts 153 member states till now, screens at least 97 % of planetary trade ( Sloman, 2006 ) . In the same manner as its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ( GATT ) , the WTO ‘s chief aim is to take any unneeded hurdlings that prevent trade to flux every bit fluidly as possible. In that regard, it urges all its members to stay by a chiseled set of regulations regulating trade dealingss. These include viz. :

Trade without favoritism: The WTO provides for a ‘most-favoured state ‘ clause, whereby all members should handle their trade spouses reasonably and equitably. Any advantage granted to a given state ( like take downing of duties for illustration ) should every bit good use to all WTO signers without any favoritism whatsoever. However, Article XXIV of the GATT pertaining to customs brotherhoods and free trade countries is an exclusion to that regulation, as it allows member states to know apart between spouses and non-partners ;

Predictability: Member states can raise duty rates merely to the extent where they have negotiated with their opposite numbers for so making. The resort to quotas is besides purely prohibited ;

Promoting just competition: In the event where a state is faced with restrictive trade steps, the WTO permits the latter to revenge with similar methods ; and

Particular and Differential Treatment: Developing and less developed states should be given an drawn-out hold in position of implementing WTO commissariats decently.

An interesting fact is that contrary to the GATT, the WTO is vested with disciplinary powers which it can utilize against those states which do non follow with those aforesaid rules. For case, in 2002, the WTO ruled that the protectionist steps adopted by President Bush to continue the US steel industry, in the signifier of duties imposed on steel imports, were illegal and later allowed the EU and other kicking states to revenge by enforcing similar duties on US goods. As a consequence, President Bush subsequently decided to take the said duties. This illustration is a clear illustration of how countenances taken by the WTO can lend to the riddance of duties and farther advance the harmonisation of trade dealingss.

The lowering of duties and other trade barriers has besides been on the docket of the different trade unit of ammunitions that have taken topographic point since the coming of the GATT dating back to 1947. The understanding reached at the Uruguay Round in April 1994 was viewed as a major measure frontward towards turn toing that peculiar issue. The mean tariff degree on manufactured merchandises at that specific point in clip was believed to be about 4 % and still worsening, and the said understanding set out a program to well diminish the sum of duties and non-tariff barriers by 2002.

Despite the relentless attempts made by the WTO, the free trade aim is far from being attained, judging by the rapid proliferation of non-tariff barriers ( NTBs ) to merchandise that has been witnessed on the planetary scene since the Tokyo Round of dialogues ( 1973-1979 ) , where they have been first dealt with. Empirical grounds has shown that non-manufactured goods are those which are most likely to be exposed to NTBs. This has been the instance notably with agricultural merchandises, where export subsidies granted to EU and US based husbandmans have been the topic of deadly unfavorable judgment from developing states on the footing that husbandmans within these economic systems could non vie against subsidized agricultural merchandises arising from affluent states. This culminated in an interim understanding being concluded at Geneva in July 2004 refering to the affair in inquiry, whereby the EU was asked to discontinue the subsidising of its agricultural exports.

The EU besides experienced a rise in NTBs during the 1980s, albeit the common economic and trade policies adopted by member provinces. These barriers have been applied to a broad scope of activities, and consisted viz. of revenue enhancements on imported merchandises, subsidies or revenue enhancement alleviations being granted to autochthonal houses, authorities contracts being awarded to local concerns alternatively of foreign 1s and non-recognition of abroad makings by some member states amongst others ( Sloman, 2006 ) .

Examples of Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade


These can be defined as ceilings imposed on the importing of a certain merchandise based on its sum or value, and which apply during a specific period of clip. Quotas can be implemented both as a step of protectionism to let infant industries to foster decently and as an economic tool for the ordinance of imports, by forestalling foreign merchandises from come ining the local market ‘en masse ‘ . As the effects of a quota are more predictable and certain than those of duties, authoritiess can fall back to them on a short-run footing to rectify any anomalousness in market conditions. By lending to restrict the sum of foreign currency that would be spent on purchasing imports, quotas could besides cut down a shortage in the balance of payments of a state, which would hold the consequence of conveying its economic system back on path.

However, one of the major drawbacks associated with quotas is that they frequently incite states against which they have been imposed to revenge with similar steps, thereby making a trade war. Furthermore, the infliction of import quotas can set certain houses, particularly those who have been given import licences, in a monopoly place in the industries to which they apply. This implies that the addition in monetary value subsequent to the application of a quota could be to the full born by consumers. Similarly, curtailing the supply of a merchandise by agencies of an import quota would do portion of the domestic demand to be diverted towards locally manufactured replacements, and the addition in demand for these domestic merchandises would in bend lead to a rise in their monetary value. All this would stop up with consumers being rather limited in footings of pick.


Amongst all NTBs that have come to be known so far, trade stoppages are surely viewed by many as the most utmost manner of curtailing trade. By definition, an trade stoppage is an order from the authorities forbiding any signifier of trade with a specific state, and by and large applies to both imports and exports. The principle warranting the resort to embargoes against certain states has been proved to be strictly political. For illustration, the US has been implementing them chiefly to approve those states with which it portions tense diplomatic dealingss. These include provinces such as North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Libya and Ivory Coast but to advert a few of them.

Import Licensing

Broadly talking, import licences are merely administrative paperss that give their several holders the sole right to import a given merchandise from other states. Making imports conditional upon licencing can ease the undertaking of the authorities in seeking to administrate quotas decently. Import licenses however might give rise to rampant corruptness and graft in an economic system, as houses would be tempted to do fiscal incentives to seek to obtain such privilege. It is besides argued that they give monopoly power to their holders on the market for imported goods.

Rules regulating the execution of import licences are embodied in the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, which defines the licensing of imports as ‘administrative processs necessitating the entry of an application or other certification to the relevant administrative organic structure as a anterior status for importing of goods ‘ ( WTO, 2008 ) . The Agreement farther provinces that authoritiess should make their uttermost to unwrap the processs involved in the granting of licences to possible appliers. In add-on to that, it specifies clearly that member states should give notice to the WTO prior to set uping or amending import licensing processs. The Agreement besides sets out the relevant standards on which the rating of applications for such licences should be based on.

Export Subsidies

The subsidizing of exports is possibly the most popular signifier of NTB in international trade due to its broad application. The purpose behind an export subsidy is to take down the monetary value of the merchandise for which it has been given such that it becomes more competitory in foreign markets. This procedure of unnaturally cut downing export monetary values is besides known as dumping. Note should be taken that subsidies are by and large granted to relieve the costs that can be incurred by a house during the exporting procedure, like cargo costs and imposts responsibilities for case. Export subsidies do non merely hike a state ‘s exports but can every bit good act as an effectual instrument promoting domestic houses to go on production on place dirt, which could convey long-run benefits to the economic system ( in footings of employment creative activity, changeless beginning of gross for the authorities through corporate revenue enhancement or engineering diffusion ) . Local houses would stay in position quo every bit long as exportation costs do non transcend that of making concern abroad.

But the chief disadvantage with export subsidies is that importing states can revenge by manner of offseting responsibilities. See the instance where the EU decides to subsidize the export of agricultural merchandises to the US to heighten their fight. The US, after probe, could respond by following offseting responsibilities equal to or greater than the subsidy in inquiry. In the terminal, the initial subsidy given by the EU could turn out to be instead ineffectual.

Foreign Exchange Controls

This involves curtailing the purchase and sale of foreign currencies up to a certain sum. Given that importers needfully have to finance their imports through foreign currencies, restricting entree to these would connote a subsequent lessening in the measure of imported goods. This explains how the ordinance of foreign exchange markets can be used as portion of the policy of a authorities to cut down imports.

Currency Devaluation

It can be defined as the procedure whereby a state decides to diminish the value of its currency against that of other currencies on a voluntary footing. Currency devaluation can take to an addition in the cost of imports and a decrease in that of exports, thereby doing them more competitory in footings of monetary values in foreign markets. For illustration, at an exchange rate of ˆ1 for $ 2, a merchandise bing $ 100 in the US would usually be bought at ˆ50 in EU states. If the value of the Euro compared to that of the Dollar is readjusted to ˆ1 for $ 1, the same merchandise will be purchased at ˆ100. The immediate consequence would be a autumn in EU imports from the US. In the same manner as export subsidies, this step is peculiarly designed for hiking the export sector of an economic system therefore making a current history excess.

An illustration demoing how this tactic can bring forth the coveted effects could be China ‘s ever-growing export sector. Between 1995 and 2005, China ‘s policy was to keep the exchange rate of the Yuan against the Dollar at $ 1 for 8.28 kwai. The changeless devaluation of the Chinese kwai during this specific period of clip has mostly contributed to the growing push of China ‘s export market, and helped to accomplish a current history excess of $ 162 billion in 2004 ( Sloman, 2006 ) . However, under the menace of a 27.5 % duty imposed on its exports by the US, China eventually shifted from a fixed to a floating exchange rate policy in 2005, but that applied merely to a group of 11 states including the US.

Non-Tariff Barriers: A Necessary Evil?

Notwithstanding the fact that they might be moving as a hinderance to free trade on the planetary market, grounds suggests that NTBs could besides hold a good impact from an economic point of position. It has been seen that they can for case be implemented as portion of a program taking at cut downing imports, with the terminal consequence being a orderly betterment of a state ‘s balance of payments. Advocates of NTBs might every bit good set forward the protection of infant industries as an statement warranting their application. As these industries are unable to confront foreign competition due to their evident breakability, protectionist steps might be adopted on a short-run footing to supply them with equal support necessary for their progressive development. But the hazard of seeing infant industries fall into complacence and acquiring used to discriminatory intervention should non be overlooked. In restricting the inflow of imports on the domestic market, NTBs can indirectly take to the creative activity of many occupation chances, particularly in the export sector, and have besides proved to be effectual mechanisms for guaranting the protection of ailing industries.

In order for NTBs non to blockade the fluidness of trade dealingss and for them to hold the expected positive result, authoritiess should earnestly see to use them temporarily and to take them at the right clip to forestall their several states from being engaged in eternal trade struggles.