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Definition of trade barrier

A trade barrier can be broadly defined as a foreign government policy, practice, or procedure that unfairly or unnecessarily restricts U.S. exports.

Trade barriers may:

  • be imposed overtly, often for the purposes of shielding or artificially stimulating domestic industries

  • occur as a result of a government failure to provide the necessary infrastructure for competitive conditions

  • result from the failure of a government to live up to trade agreement obligations with the United States

Foreign trade barriers may affect U.S. exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment by U.S. persons, and protection of intellectual property rights.  These barriers can come in the form of laws and regulations or informal policies, practices, or procedures.