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Import ban


An import ban is a complete prohibition on imports of a certain product. An import ban can be general, i.e. it prohibits imports of the product from any other country (e.g. because the product is forbidden in the home country), or it can be directed at imports from a certain country (e.g. because of an animal disease in the exporting country).

In the WTO context, import bans are regarded as non-tariff trade barriers and are therefore only permitted in certain circumstances, e.g. to protect health. Many disputes put before the WTO arbitration panel concern the question of whether import bans (such as bans on genetically modified foodstuffs) are justified scientifically or are simply a form of protectionism. Countries applying import bans are expected to gradually convert them into tariffs.

Import bans can promote smuggling and do not generate revenues for the government. The lack of competition can prevent productivity and quality from improving. The goal of protecting and promoting domestic production can also be targeted by introducing tariffs.


  • A properly functioning country-wide administration and monitoring system with access to the relevant information and sufficient technical and human capacities for its design, implementation and monitoring
  • Clear and coherent political strategy and targets for policy-makers and public authorities
  • Close cooperation and knowledge sharing with research institutions
  • Constant market surveying and forecasting
  • Compatible regional and world trade law (WTO conformity)
  • Efficient customs administration
  • Market price information systems

Possible Negative Effects

  • Higher prices for consumers and higher costs for processors
  • Importers are weakened and may have to abandon business relationships
  • Smuggling and black market
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This page was last edited on 7 May 2023 | 7:22 (CEST)
Implementation Level
  • Competent Authority
  • National Government
Required Budget
low ($)
Impact Horizon
  • short
  • medium
  • long
Administrative Complexity
Ministries Involved
  • Agriculture, Fisheries & Forests
  • Trade, Industry & Economic Development
Trade Impact
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  • Instruments
  • Policy Objectives