Trade policy

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The trade policy is a part of government economic policy , which deals with all legal norms and measures is concerned that the scope and direction of trade ( foreign trade and domestic trade ) of one or more States concerning.


Trade policy is made up of foreign trade and domestic trade policy . Trade policy includes, on the one hand, all measures to promote international trade and international credit transactions such as B. the conclusion of trade agreements , the formation of free trade zones , the establishment of a customs union , the creation of a free movement of capital , but also measures that serve to initiate foreign trade such as the promotion of foreign trade fairs. In the broadest sense, integration policy can also be understood as a variant of trade policy. On the other hand, this also includes measures of protectionism , with which the attempt is made to move away from the ideal of free trade to influence foreign trade in the interests of certain sectors or producers. Often the meaning of trade policy is narrowed down to this second issue. Domestic trade policy is also part of trade policy and is intended to regulate the economic exchange relationships between economic entities in Germany .

Strategic Trade Policy Instruments

Tariff measures

Tariffs are the classic instrument of strategic trade policy. Depending on their justification, one differentiates:

  • Protective tariffs : The tariff serves to protect domestic providers.
  • Education tariffs : The tariff is intended to grant protection to an industry that is developing until it is competitive on the market. It is ideally designed degressively, i.e. that is, it is reduced as the competitiveness of the protected industry increases.
  • Financial tariffs: The sole purpose of the tariff is to generate government revenue.
  • Anti-dumping and retention duties: The purpose of the duty is to compensate for disadvantages caused by dumping by foreign suppliers or by subsidies by a foreign government. This form of tariff is permissible under the rules of the WTO , provided that damage has been determined there.

Export subsidies are granted by a state to promote the export of certain goods.

Dumping is similar in effect to subsidies. This is understood to be the sale of goods abroad at a price that is lower than the production costs or significantly below the price at which a manufacturer can sell his product, e.g. B. sells in its home market. However, dumping is only a trade policy instrument if it is made possible by state measures. Often it is also an expression of a corporate strategy.

Special forms are the partial - d. H. affecting some goods - or a total ban on trade with certain countries ( embargo ). This applies e.g. B. for the export of weapons of war or goods that can be used for the manufacture of weapons. In Germany this is regulated in the Foreign Trade Act. A complete ban on trade with a country usually takes place for political reasons, mostly by resolution of the UN (e.g. embargo against Iraq ).

Non-tariff measures

Non-tariff trade barriers, also known as gray area measures , are all attempts to make market access more difficult for foreign providers through regulations outside of foreign trade law. These include B.

  • Quotas are quantitative restrictions that a state imposes on imports of certain goods, and in rare cases also on exports.
  • Labeling requirements: The designation Made in Germany was originally conceived by Great Britain in order to clearly differentiate German goods from domestic ones.
  • Special technical standards and approval procedures.
  • Legal requirements for which only domestic manufacturers have patents, e.g. B. CO 2 measurement in the interior of a car.
  • Discriminatory measures in customs clearance
  • Threat of trade policy measures: Often foreign suppliers can be induced to either increase their prices or to limit the import volume by threatening to impose a duty. B. Entering into self-restraint agreements.
  • Requirements for the qualification of service providers: For example, before a corresponding EU rule came into force, German engineers with a technical college degree were not allowed to manage construction sites in France, which made market access difficult for German construction companies.

There may also be non-governmental trade barriers. These include B. consumer behavior (“buy national”), cultural habits of consumers or opaque characteristics of national competition (such as in wholesale).

As tariff barriers have become less important as a result of international GATT and WTO agreements , non-tariff barriers have been on the rise.

International trade policy rules

International cooperation in the field of trade policy and the settlement of disputes were regulated until 1994 in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was established in 1947. Within this framework, a significant global reduction in tariffs was achieved in eight world trade rounds up to 1994. In 1995 it was replaced by the World Trade Organization WTO, in which the old GATT partly lives on, but which also contains GATS rules for international trade in services and TRIPS international rules for handling intellectual property . In the past the GATT and now the WTO are also addressees if one country feels disadvantaged in foreign trade by another. If an action brought there is upheld and the perpetrator does not end the obstruction, retention or anti-dumping duties may be levied.

Common commercial policy of the EC

The member states of the EC have given their legislative competence in trade policy to the European level. As a customs union, the EU has a common customs tariff for third countries. Art. 133 of the EC Treaty gives the European Community the authority to initiate measures to pursue a uniform European trade policy. The common trade policy consists of the autonomous trade policy (internal measures of the EC: e.g. anti-dumping regulation) and the contractual trade policy (foreign trade agreements with third countries ). The European Commission , advised and supported by the 133 Committee , has the monopoly of proposals and negotiations. She also represents the EU states in WTO negotiations. The agreements are concluded by the Council.

See also