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työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö

What are barriers to trade?

Barriers to trade are regulations and measures imposed by authorities that unduly impede trade in goods or services, in export or import. Various restrictions on investments can also be counted among trade barriers. Loss of business opportunities is the most serious impact of a trade barrier, but even their minor effects may require extra time and trouble and cause additional expenses.

Trade barriers can be e.g. the following:

  • various standards and technical regulations
  • inspection, testing or certification requirements
  • import licensing, import quotas, import bans
  • customs procedures, special border documentation requirements
  • high customs duties and other charges
  • discriminatory taxation practices
  • violation of intellectual property rights
  • foreign exchange regulations, regulations on repatriation of profits
  • discriminatory rules of public procurement and domestic content requirements
  • investment restrictions
  • deficient compliance with legislation in force

A few examples of trade barrier cases

On the internal market of the EU

A Finnish company manufacturing fire safety systems did not obtain sall relevant requirements in Finland. On the basis of company's complaint, MTI's Market Access Unit and the corresponding body in Sweden (Kommerskollegium) undertook to work on solving the problem. Due to this cooperation the product concerned was granted the required authorisation in Sweden.

On markets outside the EU

Several companies in various parts of the EU notified their national authorities of problems in imports of pneumatic tyres to Egypt. It was alleged the Egypt applied a discriminatory inspection practice to imports of tyres.

In Egypt a state-owned company, which is also a major tyre manufacturer itself, tested the tyres. The company refused from technical inspections of the imported tyres and considered that a visual test was enough. On the basis of these visual tests, the quality of tyres of foreign origin was repeatedly "assessed" insufficient, and imports of tyres were practically ceased altogether.

When the individual contacts of the Member States with Egypt did not produce any results, the European Commission was notified of this. As a result of the unofficial negotiations between the Commission and Egypt, the inspection practice distorting imports was abolished.


Page last updated: 07.01.2016

Further information

Akseli Koskela