Barriers to trade

We want to help New Zealand exporters to succeed in international markets. If you’re experiencing issues with exporting, find out below which government agency can help you.

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About trade barriers

Trade barriers come in two forms:

Trade barriers – these are the duties paid when goods cross a border.

Non-tariff barriers – non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are rules that unfairly restrict or distort trade. They make it costly or expensive to export, and may be intended to favour domestic producers over competitors from other markets. Governments refer to them as NTBs but businesses often describe them as red tape, bureaucratic rules, or hassles.

NTBs can arise with any type of export, from food to digital goods and services.

Examples may include:

  • Plant and animal health requirements.
  • Procurement rules, e.g. requirements to buy goods from local producers.
  • Prohibitions or import bans.
  • Quantity restrictions, e.g. quotas limiting the amount of a product that can be sold.
  • Rules for a company to have a certain percentage of local directors.
  • Subsidies, e.g. money given to domestic producers that makes it harder for importers to compete.
  • Technical standards, e.g. product labelling requirements, testing procedures, or certifications.

Watch how we can help New Zealand exporters overcome non-tariff barriers to make exporting easier and more competitive. Find out more:

Tracking non-tariff barriers

We track NTBs reported to us, and report annually on the number and value of issues that have been resolved. As of September 2023, we are tracking 192 NTBs affecting approximately NZ$9.8 billion worth of trade.

We measure NTBs based on the value of trade affected. This can be subjective as NTBs can vary in terms of their impact, ranging from a complete barrier to a bureaucratic or logistical hindrance. There is no standardised approach for valuing NTBs.

A graph showing the number of non-tariff barriers by region (September 2023).
A graph showing the value of non-tariff barriers by region (September 2023).

Finding the right people to help

If you are facing a barrier in your exports, we may be able to help you address it. There is no wrong door in asking any of the government agencies who deal with resolving barriers.

Visit link) to contact us. Your enquiry will be sent to the government agency best placed to answer it.

Food and primary products

If you are in the primary sector and encounter barriers such as rules for food safety and standards or animal welfare, contact the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Customs tariffs and duties

Customs tariffs are taxes that are levied on goods that cross international borders.

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

Border issues

Border issues can delay or stop your goods crossing into countries. Make sure you are aware of all requirements and have everything in place to get your goods across the border smoothly.

If your goods have been held up on the border, the New Zealand Customs Service is the first agency you should contact.


If you are a manufacturer and are facing standards, regulations, rules on selling to foreign governments, or other restrictions that are blocking you from exporting, contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Selling to governments

If you come across provisions in tender documents released by foreign governments that you feel unfairly disadvantage you compared to local suppliers (e.g. a requirement to have membership of a specific industry association), contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Education services

If you export education services and need help with trade barriers, contact Education New Zealand.

Export controls

If you are planning to export military-related goods and controlled chemicals, considering exporting research with military utility, or brokering the transfer of military goods between countries outside of NZ, our Export Controls team are here to help.

Real-life examples

Exporters can sometimes experience hurdles in getting goods and services into international markets. Learn from these case studies how others have worked through issues to become successful and grow their business.

Exporter case studies


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