ITC seminar conclusions: increase in number of non-tariff measures poses difficulties for developing countries
Non-tariff measures (NTMs) are increasing in number and complexity, making it difficult to analyse and mitigate them, and posing rising challenges to exporters. That is the main conclusion from the International Trade Centre (ITC) seminar ‘Non-tariff Measures: New challenges and the road ahead’ held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Keynote speaker Alan V. Deardorff, Professor of International Economics at the University of Michigan and leading expert in the field of NTMs, told the audience that all NTMs can harm exporters from developing countries. Mr. Deardorff said that NTMs have become generally more severe than tariffs and are increasingly causing greater interference for developing countries’ trade.
The seminar was held as ITC works with partners in developing countries around the world to conduct NTMs surveys over a three-year period (2011 through 2013). ‘More than 7,000 companies have so far been surveyed,’ Patricia R. Francis, Executive Director of ITC, said at the seminar. ‘It is critical that we hear the private sector voice in this as they are the ones being impacted by NTMs on a daily basis. This large-scale data-gathering will lead to greater transparency regarding NTMs, allowing for domestic trade policy reforms and leading to a better business environment.’
Speaking on the rise of NTMs, Debapriya Bhattacharya, of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka, and Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the WTO, the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, told the audience that the majority of NTMs implemented since 2008 are in developing countries.
Guillermo Valles, Director of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services Commodities at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), told the audience that given the breadth of challenges posed by NTMs, joint initiatives such as the collection and classification of national regulations related to NTMs by ITC, UNCTAD, the World Bank and the African Development Bank are necessary. Valles emphasized the need to strengthen such partnerships and to reach out to more institutions.
Other key conclusions from the seminar were that even legitimate NTMs can have unintended consequences, and that there has been a proliferation of private NTMs, as well, such as those imposed by importers in developed countries, which are sometimes not recognized as NTMs. ‘ITC’s NTM programme aims to improve the transparency and clarity in the complex area of NTMs,’ said Ms. Francis. ‘Ultimately the purpose of the surveys we are conducting around the world is not to identify problems, but to work with partners in the countries to find solutions. The results of the surveys can be turned into action with a collective effort on behalf of the private sector and local policy makers.’
More detailed information and video from the seminar ‘Non-tariff Measures: New challenges and the road ahead’ can be found at http://www.intracen.org/new-challenges-and-the-road-ahead/ Click here to download the pdf version