Removing non-tariff barriers essential to help developing countries, new research shows

Proliferation of western regulations are damaging developing countries

Developing countries need to focus urgently on the removal of non-tariff barriers if they are to promote trade and growth according to a new study.

Barriers to prosperity – developing countries and the need for trade liberalisation also argues that there is an urgent requirement for the EU to remove protectionist import barriers erected against poor countries.

The report finds that although tariff barriers are still a problem they are not as significant as non-tariff barriers in stopping developing countries from moving into the export of higher value added products such as processed foods.

Currently, developing countries often have a very low share of exports of final processed products. For example, developing countries account for 91 per cent of raw coffee exports but only 3 per cent of processed coffee exports. It is the export of these processed agricultural products that provides the best opportunities for growth and development in many of the world’s poorest countries.

Specific barriers identified in the research include:

  • EU rules of origin and rules relating to traceability.
  • The combination of such rules with preferential trade agreements which becomes more onerous as the degree of processing of agricultural products increases.
  • Health and safety regulations.
  • Labelling schemes such as fair trade and organic.
  • Environmental standards, such as those relating to palm oil exports.
  • Export and import procedures imposed by developing countries themselves.

It is also likely that the existence of these barriers is pushing up the price of food in developed countries.