Knowledge Note

As tariff levels have reached all-time lows in recent decades, non-tariff measures (NTMs) have taken a central role in the international trade agenda. In a nutshell, NTMs are all types of trade regulations, other than tariffs, that directly or indirectly affect international trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) recognizes the right of countries to introduce trade regulations to achieve legitimate objectives not related to trade, such as consumer health protection and food safety. However, NTMs can be hijacked and used as protectionist tools that can potentially drive up trade costs, divert managerial attention, and penalize small exporters—regardless of an NTM’s original intent. In the face of fragmented, inconsistent, and largely unavailable data on NTMs, the World Bank is at the forefront of an inter-institutional effort to codify, harmonize, and disseminate information on NTMs and their economic impacts. The goal is to increase policy makers awareness of NTMs and help them better understand not only the impacts of their main trading partners’ NTMs, but also of their own NTM policies on competitiveness, prices, and welfare.

About the Presenters

Mariem Malouche

José-Daniel Reyes

Amir Fouad