Non-Tariff Measures: Economic Assessment and Policy Options for Development

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Alessandro NICITA

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During the last 20 years international trade has been subject to an increasing number of policy measures aimed to regulate market access and/ or to ensure that imported products conform to public policy objectives such as consumers’ safety.

These policy measures are generally referred to as non-tariff measures (NTMs) and comprise a vast and diverse array of measures, all of which have in common that they are government policies that – intentionally or unintentionally – alter the volume, direction or product composition of international trade. Of importance is that these measures include not only border measures (e.g. quotas), but also domestic policies (e.g. subsidies) and measures whose distortionary impact on trade is felt along the marketing chain (e.g. standards, distribution restrictions).

This volume aims to contribute towards a better understanding of the evolving role of NTMs.2 It has two parts.

Part I first illustrates how NTMs affect the policy space of governments to pursue social and economic development. Part I then continues with an overview of the methods for assessing the implications of NTMs for international trade and economic development.

Part II consists of a number of case studies that analyse the implications of various forms of NTMs for developing countries’ trade. The case studies cover African, Asian and Latin American countries. The remainder of this introduction recalls the rise of NTMs and their evolving motives, and considers how this evolution has affected developing countries. It closes with a summary of the chapters and suggestions for next steps.

de Melo, J. and Nicita A. (eds), Non-Tariff Measures: Economic Assessment and Policy Options for Development, UNCTAD/DITC/TAB/2017/2