What is a trade barrier?

Trade barriers take many forms, and may differ depending on whether you export goods or services. A trade barrier is any rule, administrative procedure or other government intervention that makes it slow, costly or difficult to export to a particular market. Sometimes trade barriers exist for good reasons - for example, regulations that protect public health or the environment.

In other cases, we may be able to reduce, resolve, or prevent barriers, especially where rules:

• are not transparent or clear

• are overly restrictive

• are unevenly applied or have been introduced to unfairly advantage local industries

• are inconsistent with trade rules

What are some examples of common trade barriers?

Common examples include:

• customs procedures

• requirements for goods to be locally produced

• requirements to use local assets, components or workers

• quantity restrictions (such as quotas)

• difficulty enforcing international rules and regulations

• poor protection of intellectual property rights

• licensing requirements

• limitations on access to key infrastructure

• restrictions on foreign entry or movement of people

• data storage requirements

• privacy requirements

• local presence requirements

• taxes that favour domestic over foreign firms

• restrictions on investment

• qualification requirements

• price controls

• requirements about company directors

• procurement rules

• subsidies

• product labelling requirements

• testing, inspection and certification procedures

• sanitary, phytosanitary or technical regulations and standards.

How long will it take for my enquiry to be addressed?

We aim to provide an initial response to each enquiry within 48 hours. The timeframe for tackling the particular trade barrier that you have identified will depend on the type of trade barrier and also on the willingness of the trade partner to resolve it. Some trade barriers can be resolved very quickly, while others can take many years to overcome. Occasionally, despite New Zealand’s best efforts, a trade barrier cannot be resolved.

I need assistance with my commercial strategy offshore, can you help me?

The Trade Barriers Helpdesk has been set up to deal with governmental barriers to trade. However, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) helps New Zealand businesses to grow internationally by providing access to market knowledge, resources and connections, as well as connections to investors and partners for growth.  NZTE can be contacted via their website.

Which agencies are involved in handling my enquiry?

The Trade Barriers Helpdesk is jointly operated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment, Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries, Education New Zealand, and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. Once we have examined the particular details of your enquiry, we will determine which of our agencies is best placed to assist you.

What happens to my personal data and confidential information?

Our data privacy statement explains how we will use your personal data and confidential information.

Does the Trade Barriers Helpdesk service cost me anything?

The Trade Barriers Helpdesk is completely free to use, and there is no limit on the number of times you can use it.