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Business Survey on Non-tariff Measures

ITC conducts large-scale surveys of companies to improve knowledge of existing NTM-related obstacles by providing detailed qualitative impact analysis and directly addressing key stakeholders. Building on the experience and knowledge of exporters and importers that have to deal with these measures, these surveys are a viable and proven mechanism to deepen understanding of the perception of NTMs which, by their nature, are hard to quantify.

Why a survey on non-tariff measures?

The last several decades have witnessed a remarkable decline in global tariff rates. Trade liberalization has emerged as a key development tool based on evidence that benefits accrue to countries actively engaged in world trade. However, the positive effects of lower tariffs have been overshadowed by a shift towards misuse of NTMs. Together with the decline in tariff rates the proliferation of NTMs around the world is well documents.

Exporters and importers need to comply with a wide variety of regulations imposed by their home country, partner countries, and sometimes transit countries. While some NTMs are important to guarantee consumer health, environmental protection or national security, evidence suggests that countries are reverting to NTMs as alternative protectionist instruments to control access to their markets.

The ITC NTM Survey allows companies to directly report the most burdensome NTMs and the way in which they impact their businesses.

Survey Quote

Business perspective is important

A sound understanding of the business perspective of NTMs is critical for governments to successfully identify and define national strategies and policies that help overcome barriers to trade. Businesses are best placed to inform decision-makers on developing policies as they have first-hand experience of dealing with the key challenges.

Exporters and importers in developing and least developed countries have raised concerns about NTMs. These traders have registered challenges to sometimes-complex requirements and administrative obstacles. At the same time, developing and least developed firms often face inadequate domestic trade related infrastructure obstacles. As a result, while NTMs may not pose problems as such, some can still seriously hinder trade. Inadequate access to information about applicable regulations and other services to promote exports impact on the international competitiveness of enterprises.

Scope of the surveys

The surveys cover companies that are involved in international merchandise trade, about their experiences with burdensome regulations and procedures. This approach identifies at product, sector and partner country-level the predominant obstacles that the business sector faces when complying with NTMs. These include not only NTMs imposed by other countries, but also potential bottlenecks in the exporting country’s capabilities and technical facilities to meet regulations and demonstrate compliance with NTMs.

The surveys enable targeted capacity building and better formulation of national strategies and policies. In particular, they identify:

  • The most challenging NTMs by sector, company size and partner country;
  • The existing national procedures and facilities which need to be strengthened in order to better support the business sector in exporting and importing their goods;
  • Gaps in understanding specific measures, applied by certain countries or for specific products, resulting from a lack of access to relevant information.


Survey methodology

Survey methodology

Survey methodology andsampling technique

Understanding NTMs

Understanding NTMs

Online course on NTMs, the business survey and the results

Current Status

Current Status

Survey coverage and survey data availibilty