Exploring linkages between non-tariff measures and the Sustainable Development Goals: A global concordance matrix and application to Asia and the Pacific
Non-tariff measures (NTM) are policy measures other than ordinary tariffs that can impact international trade. Many of the NTMs are, in principle, imposed to address specific and legitimate non-trade objectives, including those that are relevant to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This working paper presents a methodology to link NTMs imposed on certain product groups to relevant SDGs and their targets, based on the stated or implied objectives of NTMs as reflected in the UNCTAD’s Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) database. A matrix of information strings linking SDG Targets, HS codes, NTM codes, as well as selected keywords is constructed. The matrix is then used to analyse the extent to which NTMs in the TRAINS database are related to SDGs in selected countries, with a specific focus on Asia and the Pacific.
Overall, the global SDG-HS-NTM concordance matrix contains 119 entries, of which 42 entries are evaluated to have direct intended impact on the following SDGs: SDG 2 on ending hunger, SDG 3 on health, SDG 6 on water, SDG 7 on energy, SDG 11 on cities and human settlements, SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, SDG 14 on life below water, SDG 15 on life on land, and SDG 16 on peace and crime. These 42 entries are used in the quantitative analysis of the data from the TRAINS database. The rest of the entries recorded in the matrix cover the full set of SDGs and are either too ambiguous to create a direct linkage to NTMs (e.g. due to TRAINS data not containing sufficient information on the objective of an NTM), or are evaluated to have only indirect impact on the examined SDGs. The complete matrix demonstrates the variety of avenues for potential impact of NTMs and provide ideas for possible directions of further inquiry.
The concordance matrix is used to calculate the share of NTMs that have direct links to SDGs, a potentially useful index to gauge the overall consistency between NTMs and implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda. On average, 41.5 per cent of the measures in the global TRAINS NTM database are directly addressing the SDGs - 42.5 in per cent Asia and the Pacific. The share ranges from 11 per cent (in India) to 73 per cent (in Tajikistan). The SDG-related NTMs, both in Asia-Pacific and globally, most often directly address SDGs 2, 3, 12 and 16. Such prominence of SDG 2 and 3 is due to the fact that Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures, which account for the highest share of all NTMs, have a direct role to play in the achievement of these Goals. The complete concordance matrix and raw results of concordance between NTMs and SDGs globally are available separately for download.
A detailed online guide on how to analyze economies' NTMs using this concordance matrix using R has been developed and is available on this page. Users who are not familiar with R, or would just want to brush up on their skills, are encouraged to take ESCAP's Online Training on Using R for Trade Analysis.