Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019

Navigating Non-tariff Measures towards Sustainable Development

image of Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019

This report provides an analysis of the rise of non-tariff measures (NTMs) and its implications for Asia and the Pacific. Prepared jointly by ESCAP and UNCTAD, it reviews the costs and benefits associated with such measures from a sustainable development perspective, and identifies good practices to ensure that they serve their legitimate social or environmental purpose while not unnecessarily and negatively affecting trade and investment. The report focuses on the rise of NTMs and why they matter for sustainable development. It delves on the impact of NTMs in Asia and the Pacific, explores their relationship to international standards and discusses streamlining NTMs for Sustainable Development.



Introduction the rise of non-tariff measures

During the past two decades, applied tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region have halved. At the same time, the number of non-tariff measures (NTMs), including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBTs), has risen significantly (figure 1). Both in relative and absolute terms, the impact of NTMs vis-à-vis tariffs as an impediment to trade has increased. While the higher tariffs imposed by the United States and China during the past two years have made headline news, the rising importance of NTMs as barriers to trade at the regional and global levels is expected to continue.1 In fact, a key concern is that trade tensions evolve from existing relatively transparent tariff wars to discriminatory implementation of NTMs, the impact of which is much more difficult to assess and predict.


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