World Trade Report 2012

Trade and Public Policies: A Closer Look at Non-Tariff Measures in the 21st Century

Regulatory measures for trade in goods and services raise new and pressing challenges for international cooperation in the 21st century. The World Trade Report 2012 examines why governments use these non-tariff measures and to what extent such measures may distort international trade. Non-tariff measures (NTMs) can serve legitimate public policy goals, such as protecting the health of consumers, but they may also be used for protectionist purposes. The Report reveals how the expansion of global production chains, climate change and the growing importance of consumer concerns in richer countries affect the use of NTMs. It also reports that such measures represent the main source of concerns for exporters. The focus of the Report is on technical barriers to trade (TBT) regarding standards for manufactured goods, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures concerning food safety and animal/plant health, and domestic regulation in services. The Report looks at the availability of information on NTMs and the latest trends concerning usage. It discusses the impact that NTMs have on trade and examines how regulatory harmonization and/or mutual recognition of standards may help to reduce any trade-hindering effects. Finally, the Report looks at international cooperation on NTMs.

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