Barriers to trade and investment and how to manage them
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs offers companies services that help to eliminate trade barriers. Ongoing dialogue with the private sector is vital for effective removal of trade barriers. You can inform about your internationalisation plans and trade barriers on the attached form via email to email@example.com or by phone to +358-29-535 1133.
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Trade barriers include all measures by the public authorities or the private sector that hamper market access of goods.
Examples of barriers to trade:
- high customs tariffs
- import-, export-, or customs formalities that are ineffective or cause unnecessary expenses
- technological regulations that discriminate against foreign companies or products
- insufficient protection of industrial property rights and copyrights
- lack of transparent regulations.
The most suitable tool for removing a trade barrier is to be selected case by case following a thorough analysis of the barrier. Problems can be solved through direct bilateral contacts, for example during ministerial export promotion and internationalisation visits, through the European Commission, or by means of multilateral cooperation. Several modes of operation can also be pursued simultaneously. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs uses the services of its broad network of missions abroad, through which it can exercise direct bilateral influence. Frequently, the European Commission is asked to approach the same problem simultaneously to help convey the message.
Bilateral exercise of influence at EU level is often based on treaties the EU has signed with third countries, as well as on dispute settlement mechanisms within them. Finland’s bilateral agreements with non-EU countries also contain cooperation mechanisms that can be useful when trade barrier issues are handled. The Finnish-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation is an example of such agreements.
Multilateral cooperation to remove trade barriers is carried out under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The European Commission conducts negotiations on behalf of the EU Member States in accordance with the jointly decided trade policy objectives.
How to identify trade barriers
The best chances for eliminating trade barriers exist when they are linked with infringement of some international obligation, such as WTO provisions or rules agreed upon in bilateral free trade agreements. In case of investments, the problem can be addressed the most effectively through if Finland has an agreement on the promotion and protection of investment with the country in question.
The following questions, based on the basic principles determined in international trade policy agreements, can be used for identifying barriers to trade.
Does the measure in question treat foreign and domestic products, investments and actors in a non-discriminatory manner?
Is the measure implemented by using the least trade-restrictive means, considering the underlying policy objectives? Could the same objectives be achieved by less trade-restrictive means?
Compliance with international practices:
Are the basic principles and the implementation of the measure in agreement with the general practices of international trade? Does the measure substantially differ from existing international standards?
Prohibition of quantitative restrictions:
Are quantitative restrictions or export/import bans applied tothe import or export of goods?
Free transfer of funds:
Can investments and investment-related funds be freely transferred from country to country?
Have the details of and instructions concerning the measure concerned been published clearly and in a timely manner, so that the private sector has been given time to adapt to them?
In Finland the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy are responsible for questions concerning trade barriers. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs handles the general coordination related to trade barrier issues and trade with non-EU countries. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy is responsible for issues relating to the internal market and trade with EU Member States.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Department for External Economic Relations, Market Access Unit
Tel: +358-29-535 1133
PO Box 413, 00023 Government, Finland
Internal market barriers in the EU and the EEA:
Ministry of Employment and the Economy
Labour and Trade Department, Internal Market Policy and Business Law (SOLVIT)
Tel: +358-9-29 506 4928
PO Box 32, 00023 Government, Finland
Also in this site
- Ministry of employment and the economy
- Action Plan on External Economic Relations
- EU Market Access Database maintained by the European Commission, which contains information, e.g., on customs duties, required export documents and trade barriers in non-EU countries
- Market access related web page of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission
- Solvit – Effective problem solving in Europe
Content administrator Unit for Market Access