Trade barriers

This page provides information about trade barriers and how they arise and where to go for help with trade barriers that are making it difficult to export to a particular market.

About trade barriers

Trade barriers may be created by rules, including policies and regulations, put in place by governments. They can make it costly or difficult to export to a particular market. You might experience these as ‘red tape, ‘roadblocks’ or ‘costs of doing business’.

How trade barriers arise

The barriers can arise with any type of export from food to digital goods and services. Examples include:

  • administrative procedures
  • quantity restrictions (such as quotas)
  • licensing requirements
  • privacy requirements
  • board director requirements
  • price controls
  • subsidies
  • product labelling requirements
  • phytosanitary or technical regulations and standards
  • procurement rules
  • data storage requirements.

Help to break the barriers

Our Ministry and other government agencies can help with trade barriers. We may be able to reduce, resolve or even prevent them from happening. We can do this by holding government to government discussions or through longer-term free trade agreement negotiations.

Some barriers can be cleared up quickly, but others can take years to resolve or may never be resolved for reasons beyond New Zealand's control.

Sometimes trade barriers exist for good reasons eg, regulations to protect public health or the environment. In such cases, foreign governments may agree that New Zealand’s regulations provide equivalent protection, reducing the need to go through 2 processes. Or foreign governments may decide to improve their regulations so they meet their purpose without impeding free trade.

More information

For more information on barriers to trade or you are unsure where to register your issue, the website below can help. Enquiries registered will be directed to the agency best able to help. link)

Who to contact for help


If you’re a manufacturer facing regulator restrictions on your exports such as standards, rules in selling to foreign governments, or other restrictions blocking you from exporting, contact us.


Education services

If you export education services, including teaching international students in New Zealand or overseas, and face barriers such as licensing requirements, investment and foreign ownership restrictions or qualifications recognition, contact Education New Zealand for help.


Website: Education New Zealand(external link)

Services and investment

If you are a service provider or investor and encounter barriers such as foreign equity caps, data storage requirements or procurement rules that are unfairly preventing you from exporting your services offshore, get in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for help.

Phone: MFAT Exporter helpline 0800 824 605


Website: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade(external link)

Food and primary industries

If you’re facing trade barriers for your food or primary sector exports – for food safety and standards or animal welfare – contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Phone: 0800 00 83 33


Website: Ministry for Primary Industries: Exporting(external link)

Customs help

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


Website: link)

Last updated: 02 September 2022