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The International Trade Center (ITC) defines NTMs as mandatory requirements, rules, or regulations legally set by the government of the exporting, importing, or transit country. ?These are also official policy measures on export and import, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can potentially have an economic effect on international trade in goods, changing quantities traded, prices or all of the above.
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NTMs are classified into two broad categories: technical and nontechnical measures. Technical measures refer to product-specific properties, such as characteristics, technical specifications and production process of a product. It also includes conformity-assessment methods, which affirm the compliance of a product with a given requirement. These technical regulations are generally aimed at ensuring quality and food safety, environmental protection and national security, and at protecting animal and plant health. Nontechnical measures do not refer to product-specific properties, but to trade requirements, such as shipping requirements, custom formalities, trade rules and ?taxation policies, among others.
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In a 2010 business survey conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), it was observed that most exported products from the Philippines were subjected to technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), and export-related measures (ERMs). For both TBT and SPS, the major issues were on certification and labeling requirements, product characteristic standards, and inspection and clearance.
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Unlike tariffs, information on these regulatory measures is usually not readily available. Given the different objectives set for each of these measures, it is to be expected that information is dispersed across different offices and agencies. In most instances, information may be available, but a lot of research and ?data mining? would have to be undertaken to complete the whole list of regulations one has to comply with when trying to export. Regulations also change quite rapidly, and one has to be vigilant in monitoring these changes.
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Transparency, therefore, is a key element in understanding these NTMs. In a survey conducted by ITC, it was observed that most NTMs are very simple to address once they are known. All it takes is to bring in the private sector so that the problems could be properly identified. A number of businesses surveyed emphasized their lack of knowledge or awareness about the procedures on NTMs. Likewise, exporting companies complain about the agencies in charge of them due to their lack of transparency in their regulations (ITC SME Competitiveness Outlook Guide 2015).
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There are existing mechanisms in place to address these transparency-related concerns involving NTMs. For the Philippines, the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) has established the standards and conformance (S&C) portal to make information available on the TBT notifications to domestic stakeholders.
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Since 1996, the S&C portal has provided a weekly bulletin of foreign TBT Notifications and Listing of Philippine Notifications. More important, it enjoins the private sector to report any negative impact the draft notified regulation may have on exporters through the TBT enquiry point. More information is available at www.bps.dti.gov.ph.
The Export Development Council (EDC) recently created a technical working group on NTMs under its Networking Committee on Trade Procedures and Policies Simplification (NCTPPS), and is chaired by the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). It is cochaired by the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), the umbrella organization of Philippine exporters.
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Both organizations are collaborating with ITC on the conduct of a country?wide NTM survey currently being undertaken. This undertaking aims to further improve the DTI?s NTM toolbox through better understanding of specific measures, especially those applied by certain countries to particular Philippine products. NTMs remain among DTI?s priority topics in its several advocacy programs, like the Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) and the Philippine Export Competitive Program (PECP).
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There are also online tools on transparency and market intelligence developed by international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), ITC and the Unctad.
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For instance, the Integrated Trade Intelligence Portal (I-TIP)?http://i-tip.wto.org/goods/default.aspx?language=en?provides a single-entry point for information compiled by the WTO on trade-policy measures. Containing information on over 25,000 items, it aims to serve the needs of those seeking detailed information on trade-policy-measures, as well as those looking for summary information.
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The ITC has also developed the Market Access Map?http://www.macmap.org/Default.aspx?to support the needs of exporters, trade-support institutions, trade policymakers and academic institutions in developing countries. It provides information about customs tariffs (including tariff preferences) applied by 197 countries and faced by 239 countries and territories. It also covers tariff-rate quotas, trade remedies, rules and certificates of origin, bound tariffs of ?WTO members, nontariff measures and trade flows to help users prioritize and analyze export markets, as well as prepare for market-access negotiations.
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Moreover, the Unctad ?has its Trade Analysis Information System (TRAINS)?http://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=UNCTAD-~-Trade-Analysis-Information-System-%28TRAINS%29?which is a comprehensive database at the most disaggregated level of harmonized system, covering tariff and nontariff measures, as well as import flows by origin for more than 150 countries. Tariff information contains not only applied MFN tariff rates, but also to the extent possible, various preferential regimes, including Generalized Scheme of Preference, Regional Trade Agreement and Preferential Trade Agreement rates, as well as many bilateral agreement rates.
Just recently, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (Desa) launched the pilot version of its e-Ping project?http://www.epingalert.org/?a notification system being developed to enhance the communication between public-and private-sector stakeholders in least-developed countries (LDCs) on changes in TBT and SPS measures of (potential) trading partners.
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The e-Ping notification system will result in better informed stakeholders who can request assistance to address challenges related to product standards and trade. The system is developed under the UN Desa project ?Building Institutional Capacity in the Use of Trade-related International Support Measures in LDCs.?
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With the available institutional mechanisms and online tools on NTMs, we encourage our Philippine exporters to remain vigilant in identifying NTMs that affect and may affect their businesses. For any NTM-related query, please e- mail them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. ?
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Send your feedbacks or comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi is the assistant director Export Marketing ?Bureau; and May Ni?a Celynne P. Layug is a commercial attach? Foreign Trade Service Corps, Geneva

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