Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) can be any kind of government regulation, other than a customs duty, that unreasonably and unjustifiably restricts trade in goods and services.
They can manifest in government action and regulations known as non-tariff measures (NTMs), which include rules to protect animal and plant health, procedures governing imports, product and packaging standards, competition policy, and government procurement. Non-tariff measures can also include trade policies like import quotas, subsidies and price controls.
Most non-tariff measures are normal requirements of international trade that are based on scientific criteria and international agreements. Some, however, exceed what is necessary or are designed to prevent competition, becoming unreasonable barriers to trade.
Examples of NTMs include:
- quarantine requirements
- import processing fees
- labelling and packaging requirements
- data storage requirements
- price controls
- import licensing requirements
- in-country testing and certification requirements
- approval processes
- a lack of easily accessible information on import and export rules
- other regulatory or procedural barriers imposed by governments.
Many NTMs exist for legitimate reasons, such as to protect consumers or the environment. However, NTMs may also unnecessarily restrict trade and investment, or increase exporters’ costs or protect domestic companies from international competition.
What we are doing to address trade restrictive non-tariff measures?
The Government is taking action to remove barriers to trade for Australian businesses in overseas markets. We will soon be launching an action plan to make it easier for businesses to access the help they need, improve collaboration between government and industry, and increase transparency of processes and information.
What happens when you report a non-tariff measure?
If you've ever experienced barriers to doing business overseas, we want to hear about your experience.
Australian exporters and other domestic stakeholders are encouraged to report other countries’ NTMs to the Australian Government and relevant peak industry bodies.
While it is not possible to address all reported NTMs, the Australian Government and industry bodies may be able to address NTMs in a range of ways, including: in bilateral discussions with the relevant country; in World Trade Organization committees; with like-minded countries; and in free trade agreement negotiations. In cases where there are clear issues of inconsistency with WTO rules, and where other channels to resolve the matter have not been successful, there is an option of initiating a formal complaint under WTO dispute procedures.
Several Australian Government departments have a role to play in addressing NTMs and seeking to resolve trade barriers. The following website and contact information may be helpful:
Agriculture and food exports
Manufacturing and resources exports
Customs requirements across all industries:
If you encounter a trade barrier that is unfairly preventing you from exporting your services offshore, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report a non-tariff measure to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
To report a non-tariff barrier to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, you can complete the following form and submit it to email@example.com:
Non-Tariff Measure Reporting Form [PDF 173 KB]
Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 2 6178 4300 with the following information:
- your name
- company name
- contact phone number
- contact email
- relevant product
- HS code (if known)
- country imposing trade measure
- description of the non-tariff measure
- estimate of the cost to your business, and length of time the non-tariff measure has been an issue.
Please also include answers the following questions in your email:
- Have you previously raised the matter with any government agency? If so, which agency and what advice did you receive at the time?
- Are you aware of others experiencing the same issue?
- Can DFAT contact you for additional information about this issue?
Please also clearly identify any sensitive or commercial-in-confidence information in your email so we can ensure it is not provided to anyone outside the Australian Government.