Quality of goods imports: Which role for non-tariff measures?

Anniversary Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank
January 2019 – December 2020


One major feature of non-tariff measures (NTMs) is their opacity and complexity of their effects. Regulative standards embedded within NTMs might cause significant trade frictions, while some could stimulate trade due to positive externalities. When NTMs become very trade restrictive and discriminatory, trade disputes may arise. Specifically, when technical NTMs are not improving the quality of the imported product but mostly act as an unnecessary obstacle to trade, the implications of those NTMs might be regarded as protectionism. The study will provide information for trade policy makers to have a better understanding of the current stocks of technical barriers to trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and their effects with a focus on quality. In fact, by knowing how these trade policy measures affect quality differently from price and quantity of trade, the study will provide insights on motives behind their implementation.