Trade Barriers in International Trade


Companies quite often face trade barriers in their international operations. According to our survey results, 41 per cent of Finnish companies engaged in international trade had encountered international trade barriers in 2019–22. Five out of six obstacles had been encountered in non-EU countries, most commonly in Russia, but also in the United States and China. It would seem that obstacles have been encountered more frequently in the US than before. In the EU region, companies had most commonly encountered so-called technical barriers to trade (e.g. local standards, product regulations, and certifications). According to the companies, the second most common trade barriers were those that distort competition.

We made a numerical analysis using a comprehensive statistical dataset of global goods trade. The dataset includes the number of non-tariff measures (NTM) in trade between the countries. According to the results, taking NTMs into account does not affect how import tariffs affect global goods trade. On the other hand, the effect of non-tariff measures on global trade flows depends on the nature of the barrier and the industry. Some NTMs, such as quantitative restrictions, antidumping measures, and countervailing duties are associated with reduced trade volumes. Conversely, technical barriers to trade are linked to larger trade volumes. This may be related to the fact that certain barriers or measures may make products safer to use, thus promoting rather than reducing trade.

We also investigated disruptions in value chains as experienced by companies and their response to them. In 2020–22, the operation of the value chains was disrupted in as many as half of the companies. The disruptions affected almost all types of companies and there were not many differences between different company sizes or industries. Companies have reacted to value chain disruptions in several different ways. Large companies have diversified their purchases to more countries than before and increased their purchases from the areas close to their offices or plants. On the other hand, especially medium-sized and to some extent also small companies have increased their purchases from the home country.

Publications of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities 2023:15.

Publication info

Results of research
Barriers to trade and their effects (Etlatieto)
Research group
Business renewal
Trade barriers, International trade, Exports, Imports, Value chain, Supply chain, Globalisation
Publisher / series
Publications of the Government's analysis, assessment and research activities 2023:15
Download the publication