The Invisible Barriers to Trade - How Businesses Experience Non-Tariff Measures

“The Invisible Barriers to Trade – How Businesses Experience Non-Tariff Measures” is published by ITC, Doc. No. MAR-15-326.E, 30 June 2015.


To fill this gap and to generate hands-on information on NTMs, ITC initiated a series of surveys to document the NTMs that exporters and importers in developing countries perceive as problematic in a systematic and rigorous manner. Exporters and importers are surveyed in a two-step approach. Telephone interviews identify the affected companies that are then surveyed face-to-face. To the best of our knowledge, this methodology is unprecedented. This paper compiles the results obtained from business surveys carried out in 23 countries and draws a first set of conclusions. ITC has covered diverse developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and South America. This study focuses on barriers to export and does not address obstacles faced by importers in the surveyed countries.

The main objective of the ITC NTM Surveys is to provide information for designing trade policy that meets the business sector’s needs. This justifies the two-step approach, which is biased towards identifying burdensome NTMs. Importantly, the aim of the ITC NTM Survey is to analyse the companies’ problems in detail. The survey data are captured in a country database and the key information on products, partners, NTMs and related procedural obstacles are coded for the purpose of the analysis. All  of the country databases have been combined in a global dataset that is used extensively in this paper.

The first chapter describes the NTM Survey methodology. The second chapter explains the construction of the database. The third chapter presents a snapshot of results and the last chapter draws conclusions and highlights topics for potential future research.

This publication could be downloaded here

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