What Types of Non-Tariff Measures Exist and How Do They Affect International Trade?
Several countries and economic blocs have introduced non-tariff measures for foreign products. This has been done to protect their domestic market against competition from products from certain countries. These measures also protect consumers by guaranteeing a certain level of quality for products imported from abroad or to regulate the international trade of certain types of products. Non-tariff measures come in different shapes and sizes but can be classified into three broad groups: quantitative restrictions, qualitative restrictions, and administrative barriers.
The most widespread quantitative non-tariff measure is the establishment of export quotas. This is a restrictive measure that limits the quantities of a product imported into a given country. This measure is very often used to protect the local market. For example, in February 2019, the European Commission announced the setting of quotas on steel imports in Europe. This was in response to the concerns of European steelmakers who feared saturation of the European market following customs tariffs imposed by the US.
Concerning qualitative measures, they relate to the level of quality that all products entering a market must respect. They are primarily aimed at protecting the consumers who will use these products. The implementation of quality standards actualizes these measures. Examples of such standards are the CE standard for the European Union or the CCC standard in China.
Finally, there are regulatory or administrative measures that are more subtle and difficult to define. They consist of imposing lengthy and costly administrative formalities on the importers of certain products.
These tariff barriers have a real impact on international trade because they prevent the free access of products to all export markets. However, this strategy is justified by the desire to protect the local market against the competition of products of equivalent quality but produced much cheaper in African and Asian countries.
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