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Call for Proposals: Impact of Non-Tariff Measures on Trade and Competitiveness in East Asia

3 June 2019

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Jakarta, 3 June 2019: The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) invites submissions of research proposals for ERIA’s Research Project on ‘Impact of Non-tariff Measures on  Trade and Competitiveness in East Asia’.
Please email research proposals to Doan Thi Thanh Ha [email protected]) by 30 August 2019. Early submission is encouraged.

The authors will be notified of the decision on the proposal selection process no later than 15 September 2019.

ERIA provides financial support of US$7,000 (seven thousand dollars) per paper for the selected proposals. ERIA also covers the travel costs of one author per paper to attend the workshops of the project. Selected research papers shall be published as working papers in the ERIA Discussion Paper series.

Theme of the project

Tariff rates have decreased significantly in the past few decades. Along with the progress of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, the importance of tariffs as a protectionist tool has declined. At the same time, the prevalence of non-tariff measures has increased. These two opposite trends have triggered the questions of whether NTMs are being used as a substitute for tariffs, and how NTMs affect economic and social objectives.

NTMs are policy measures, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can potentially affect trade by changing price, quantity traded, or both. On the one hand, NTMs can impose heavy burdens on producers and consumers. For producers, NTMs raise production cost through adjustment of production technology or sourcing for better-quality inputs. Moreover, producers also need to bear the procedural costs to conform with the regulations. For consumers, NTMs can result in more expensive consumption goods or narrower product choice.

On the other hand, NTMs can serve legitimate purposes. Unlike tariffs which clearly distort trade and welfare, typically, NTMs are designed to correct several market failures, notably to protect consumers’ health and safety and to preserve the environment. From that perspective, NTMs are not necessarily non-tariff barriers, thus elimination is not the option. The complexity of NTMs as a regulatory tool poses considerable challenge to policymakers. Moreover, the expansion of global value chains further magnifies the impact of NTMs on trade and competitiveness.

Despite the growing importance of NTMs in international trade, research on NTMs, particularly for developing countries, is limited due to data paucity. Recognising the compelling need to enhance the transparency of existing NTMs and promote research on their impact, ERIA, in coordination with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has developed a database of NTMs in ASEAN+6 countries – ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.

The data is available to the public through UNCTAD’s global database on NTMs at https://trains.unctad.org/

Against this backdrop, this research project aims to enhance the understanding of NTMs’ impact on trade and competitiveness by utilising the ERIA–UNCTAD NTMs database in ASEAN+6 countries. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The incidence of NTMs and cross-country trade flows and trade patterns;
  • Impact of NTMs along the supply chain;
  • NTMs and firms’ adjustment, such as extensive and intensive margin of trade, quality upgrading, innovation, and productivity;
  • Cross-country regulatory gap and their impact on trade;
  • Harmonisation of standards;
  • Assessment of regional efforts on streamlining NTMs;
  • NTM-induced uncertainty and firms’ export competitiveness;
  • Welfare effect of NTMs.

Tentative Timeline

  • Deadline for submission of research proposals: 30August 2019
  • First workshop: 14–15 November 2019 
  • Second workshop: February 2020
  • Deadline for the final report submission: mid-March 2020


Proposals should include the following:

  • (Tentative) Title of the paper
  • Author(s)
  • Background
  • Brief literature survey
  • Objectives
  • Methodology
  • Data
  • Expected result
  • Expected policy implications
  • References

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