United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: December 8, 2014

Barriers to Trade

 

Three types of barriers to trade are acceptable under the WTO agreements:

 

1) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures

 

Article 20 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) allows governments to set their own standards in order to protect human, animal or plant life or health, provided they do not discriminate or use this as disguised protectionism.

 

2) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

 

The TBT agreement recognizes countries’ rights to adopt the standards they consider appropriate — for example, for human, animal or plant life or health, for the protection of the environment or to meet other consumer interests.

 

3) Safeguard Measures

 

A WTO member may take a “safeguard” action (i.e., restrict imports of a product temporarily) to protect a specific domestic industry from an increase in imports of any product which is causing, or which is threatening to cause, serious injury to the industry.

 

USTR National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

 

Every year, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes a National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.  The section on the European Union is available here.