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Rise in non-tariff measures, rules affecting trade: UNCTAD

Oct '19
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Current trade and technological conflicts between the world’s largest economies are reviving trade protectionism, while non-tariff measures (NTMs) and trade-affecting regulations have risen in recent years at the same time, according to data from the United Nations Conference on GTrade and Development (UNCTAD). There are more than 50,000 NTMs in place today.

NTMs are policy measures—other than ordinary customs tariffs—that can potentially have an economic effect on international trade in goods, changing quantities traded, or prices or both.

UNCTAD, which organises the NTMs Week each year to facilitate the much-needed cooperation, hosted its fifth edition October 14-15 in Geneva. The focus was on how to use NTMs as a tool to foster market access and sustainable development.

It discussed identifying good practices as well as regional and multilateral cooperation strategies to ensure NTMs serve their legitimate social or environmental purposes while not unnecessarily and negatively affecting trade and investment.

NTMs and regulatory policies are at the centre of global trade talks, affecting some 90 per cent of world trade and all areas of our everyday lives.

“Ten out of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) are directly affected by NTMs,” said UNCTAD’s chief of trade information, Ralf Peters.

“Regulatory cooperation reduces costs of trading by 25% without compromising public policy objectives that protect safety, health and environment,” an UNCTAD press release quoted Christian Knebel from the organisation’s trade division as saying.

Experts from international standards-setting bodies, international organizations, researchers and traders examined policy initiatives around national and regional regulatory coherence and cooperation at the meeting.

Sessions covered topics like the costs and benefits associated with NTMs from a sustainable development perspective, trade tensions beyond trade wars and e-commerce.

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