The protection accorded to agricultural trade continues to be a contentious issue in the multilateral trade negotiations across the globe. The developed and industrialized countries extend support to their agricultural sector through tariffs, non-tariff barriers, subsidies on inputs and output. These may discourage exports of agricultural products from the developing countries, despite being competitive. The Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs), which proliferated amongst the developing countries, have also done little to reduce the protectionism accorded to agriculture. Taking the case of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), this chapter examines the degree of protection accorded to agricultural commodities, which among other factors could explain India’s low share in total exports. The findings indicate that among various non-tariff measures (NTMs), measures such as the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) may impact agricultural exports the most. The way forward for India is to adopt measures to improve the quality of primary and processed agricultural products, while also upgrading their standards. Exchange of dialogue regarding the transparency and good quality NTMs that perform as a tool to regulate quality of goods is a must.
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Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) emphasize protectionist scopes through imposition of quotas, and export restraints. These have been replaced by non-tariff measures (NTMs) that lay stress on their potential role in hampering or facilitating trade (Grant and Arita, 2017).