Within the context of the Trade Obstacles Alert (TOA) platform, a "trade obstacle" can be defined as any requirement imposed on the export or import of goods that has an economic impact on international trade by affecting quantities, prices or both. Trade obstacles may arise from the application of non-tariff measures (NTMs) by a government or may be inherent to the business environment of a particular country.
NTMs include all mandatory legal requirements, other than tariffs, that companies have to comply with when exporting or importing goods. These measures are implemented for legitimate or protectionist reasons. They include quotas, import licensing, requirements analysis, certification procedures, health regulations and prohibitions (see the complete classification of trade obstacles). These measures may constitute obstacles to trade either by nature, i.e. through the rigorous requirements they impose, or because of the procedures that are associated to them.
Business environment includes all domestic factors that may affect the activity of a company with the exception of the aforementioned regulations and procedures. Obstacles related to the business environment might include, among others, issues related to the availability of raw material, electricity supply, transport system and port infrastructure.
The TOA platform aims at identifying the origin of said obstacles (regulatory, procedural or related to the business environment) in order to facilitate the implementation of targeted actions to eliminate them.