Current Active Non-Tariff Barriers Worldwide

Navigating Global Trade: A List of Current Active Non-Tariff Barriers Worldwide

In the intricate world of international trade, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) play a significant role in shaping commerce between nations. Unlike traditional tariffs, NTBs encompass a wide range of policies and practices that impede trade without relying on direct taxes. This blog post provides an overview of some of the current active non-tariff barriers around the world, shedding light on their impact on global trade flows.

1. Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

Technical barriers include standards, regulations, and conformity assessment procedures that can vary from country to country. These barriers can lead to increased costs for exporters who must comply with differing product specifications and certifications. Examples include different safety standards for electronics or varying labeling requirements for food products.

2. Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)

SPS measures involve regulations related to food safety and animal and plant health. While crucial for safeguarding public health, these measures can sometimes be used as barriers. Requirements for specific testing, inspection, and certification of goods like agricultural products and livestock can hinder trade by adding time and expenses to the export process.

3. Import and Export Licensing

Some countries require import or export licenses for specific products to control their movement across borders. While these licenses can be valid for legitimate reasons such as ensuring product quality or security, they can also be misused to restrict trade or favor domestic industries.

4. Quotas and Import Restrictions

Quotas limit the quantity of a certain product that can be imported over a specific period. Import restrictions are often put in place to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Such measures can lead to artificial shortages and higher prices for consumers.

5. Government Procurement Policies

Government procurement policies that favor domestic suppliers can act as barriers to foreign competitors. Discriminatory practices can limit the access of foreign businesses to lucrative government contracts, affecting fair competition.

6. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection

While crucial for protecting innovation and creativity, stringent intellectual property rights regulations can sometimes be used to hinder trade. Excessive patent protection or copyright regulations can restrict the availability of certain goods or technologies, impacting trade-in sectors like pharmaceuticals and technology.

7. Currency Controls and Exchange Rate Policies

Fluctuations in exchange rates can influence the cost of imports and exports, impacting competitiveness. Some countries use currency controls to manage their exchange rates, affecting trade by making imports more expensive or exports less attractive.

8. Unjustified Technical Barriers

Certain regulations, although not explicitly trade-restrictive, can be used as hidden barriers to favor domestic industries. Excessive administrative procedures, redundant testing requirements, and unclear regulations can hinder trade without valid reasons.


Non-tariff barriers are diverse and can have significant implications for global trade dynamics. While some of these barriers serve legitimate purposes such as protecting public health and safety, others can create obstacles that hinder international commerce. Understanding the range of active non-tariff barriers is essential for policymakers, businesses, and trade negotiators to work toward more transparent and efficient global trade practices. As the world continues to evolve, addressing these barriers is crucial for fostering a balanced and fair international trading system that benefits all stakeholders

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