Invisible barriers

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Non-tariff measures are an increasingly thorny issue in agricultural trade. The key question is when a non-tariff measure - quotas or anti-dumping measures, for example - is a legitimate action and when it is an attempt at protectionism in disguise.

One thing is clear: the number of non-tariff measures applied by GATT/WTO members has risen steeply in the past 20 years, with new notifications rising from less than 200 in 1995 to about 400 in 1999, after countries began to implement their Uruguay Round commitments. But at least some of this increase is due to more transparency because of more extensive rules on the notification of new non-tariff measures. High-income countries notified the largest number of new technical measures over 1995-1999, although they account for a relatively small proportion of total WTO membership.

• Agricultural Policies in Emerging and Transition Economies: Special Focus on Non-Tariff Measures, OECD, 2001.

©OECD Observer No 229, November 2001

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