Guide to trade acronyms

Understand the most frequently used acronyms, abbreviations, and terms in international trade with this guide.

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Common acronyms, abbreviations, and terms in international trade


The World Trade Organisation (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.


The Harmonized System (HS) is an international naming system for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System for classifying goods is a six-digit code.

MFN tariffs

Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariffs are what countries promise to impose on imports from other members of the World Trade Organisation, unless the country is part of a preferential trade agreement (such as a free trade agreement or area or customs union). Some countries impose higher tariffs on countries that are not part of the WTO.


A free trade agreement is a set of rules for how countries treat each other when it comes to doing business together — importing and exporting goods or services and investing.


The Association of South East Asian Nations includes: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. It's one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, with enormous business and investment potential for New Zealand. 


Sanitary and phytosanitary, or SPS measures, are requirements imposed for food safety or biosecurity purposes to protect human, animal or plant life and health.


Country of Origin is the country of manufacture, production, or growing, where an article or product comes from. There are differing rules of origin under various national laws and international trade agreements.


Rules of Origin are used to determine the country of origin of a product for purposes of international trade. There are two common types of rules of origin depending upon application; preferential rules, and non-preferential rules. Preferential RoO are part of a free trade agreement - the rules of origin determine what products can benefit from the tariff concession or preference. Non-preferential rules of origin are used to determine the country of origin for purposes such as quotas, anti-dumping, anti-circumvention, statistics or origin labelling.


Technical barriers to trade are regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures, which could obstruct trade.


Ad valorem is a tariff rate charged as percentage of the price.

TL (in the tables)

A tariff line is a product as defined by a system of code numbers for tariffs.

WTO bound rates (tariff binding)  

These are a commitment not to increase a rate of duty beyond an agreed level. Once a rate of duty is bound, it may not be raised without compensating the affected parties.

Applied rates

Duties that are actually charged on imports. These can be below the World Trade Organisation bound rates via agreements in free trade agreements or by unilateral decision.

Schedules - (for goods)

A list of bound tariff rates.

New Zealand trade agreements

ANZCERTA (or CER for short)

The Australia-New Zealand Comprehensive Economic Relations and Trade Agreement - the agreement under which New Zealand and Australia’s economic and trading relationship is recognised as one of the closest, broadest and mutually compatible in the world. It continues to evolve.


The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership - a free trade agreement involving 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.


The ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement is the first comprehensive free trade agreement signed by ASEAN and a major milestone for New Zealand trade.

NZ-Hong Kong China CEP

The New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership (CEP). New Zealand was the first foreign country to secure a free trade agreement with Hong Kong.

NZ-Malaysia FTA

The New Zealand-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement covers trade in goods and services, as well as investment, in one of our fastest expanding export markets.

NZ-Thailand CEP

The New Zealand-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership – our free trade agreement with Thailand. Our exports to Thailand have almost doubled since this agreement came into force.


The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4) between Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand is the first free trade agreement linking Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.

NZ-Korean FTA

The New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement is a high quality and comprehensive agreement which delivers significant commercial benefits to New Zealand exporters.

NZ-China FTA

The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement provides access to the world’s second largest economy and most populous country. Its sizeable and growing middle class offers significant opportunities for New Zealand exporters and investors.

NZ-Singapore CEP

The New Zealand Singapore Closer Economic Partnership is our free trade agreement with Singapore.


The Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC)(external link) is a high quality, comprehensive trade agreement to liberalise and facilitate trade in goods, services and investment between the two markets.


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