Non-tariff barriers

Trade barriers such as government policies and regulations that favour local suppliers are called non-tariff barriers. Find out how MPI and other government agencies can help reduce or prevent some of these barriers.

Red tape can push up costs

Non-tariff barriers are rules that make it costly or difficult to export to a particular market. You might experience these as 'red tape', 'roadblocks', or 'costs of doing business'.

The barriers can arise with any type of export from food to digital goods and services.

Examples include:

  • administrative procedures
  • quantity restrictions (such as quotas)
  • licensing requirements
  • data storage requirements
  • privacy requirements
  • board director requirements
  • procurement rules
  • price controls
  • subsidies
  • product labelling requirements
  • phytosanitary or technical regulations and standards.

Help available to break the barriers

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other government agencies can help with trade barriers. We may be able to reduce, resolve or even prevent them from happening. That might be by holding government to government discussions – where officials talk through the issues with overseas agencies. Or it might be through longer-term free trade agreement negotiations.

Some barriers can be cleared up quickly, but others can take years to resolve. It depends on their nature and the willingness of the foreign partner to sort them out. Some may never be resolved for reasons beyond New Zealand’s control.

Sometimes non-tariff barriers exist for good reasons – for example, regulations to protect public health or the environment. In those cases, foreign governments may agree that New Zealand’s regulations provide equivalent protection. Or they may improve their regulations so they meet their purpose without impeding free trade.

Who to contact

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) can help food and primary sector exporters deal with barriers relating to food safety and standards, or animal welfare.

Other agencies that can help

Education services

If you export education services, including teaching international students in New Zealand or overseas, and face trade barriers such as licencing requirements, investment and foreign ownership restrictions, or qualifications recognition, contact Education New Zealand.


If you're a manufacturer, and you're facing regulatory restrictions on your exports like standards, rules in selling to foreign governments, or other restrictions blocking you from exporting, contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Services and investment

If you're a service provider or investor and encounter barriers like foreign equity caps, data storage requirements or procurement rules that are unfairly preventing you from exporting your service offshore, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for help.

Trade Barriers website

The New Zealand Government website, Trade Barriers, has more information. You can also register your issue.

Customs help

The New Zealand Customs Service can help with advice on a range of export issues including border clearance, tariff classification, and rules of origin.

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