Trade barriers

Government authorities

What government office handles complaints from domestic exporters against foreign trade barriers at the WTO or under other agreements?

The main government offices responsible for assessing and handling complaints of foreign trade barriers to Brazilian exports are SDCOM and the Subsecretariat of International Negotiations, all under SECEX. Domestic exporters also receive relevant support and assistance in this respect from the MRE’s Trade Litigation Division.

Additionally, in November 2017 Brazil instituted a centralised online system tasked with monitoring and quantifying trade barriers, SEM Barreiras, which is jointly controlled by the Ministry of Economy, the MRE and MAPA, and may count on the participation and input of other governmental bodies whose functions relate to international trade. The purpose of such a system is to serve as a channel through which companies, associations and individuals may report trade barriers to Brazilian exports, as well as to monitor actions taken by the Brazilian government to remove or mitigate barriers. SEM Barreiras’ website is www.sembarreiras.gov.br/painel.

Finally, the National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality also provides assistance to domestic exporters with respect to technical barriers as the focal point for Brazil’s notifications to the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Committee under the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.

Complaint filing procedure

What is the procedure for filing a complaint against a foreign trade barrier?

Formal complaints concerning trade barriers must be made before the Subsecretariat of International Negotiations through the filing of specific forms. All complaints are submitted to public consultation through publication in the Official Gazette. Interested parties may also report the existence of trade barriers to SEM Barreiras (question 15).

Once complaints and notifications have been filed and registered, they are dealt with by the Ministry of Economy and the MRE on a diplomatic level, through different diplomatic procedures directly with the country imposing the barriers, or in international fora, which may ultimately include requesting information about the measure at a WTO Committee or even consultations before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), with a view to removing the trade barrier.

Grounds for investigation

What will the authority consider when deciding whether to begin an investigation?

The authority will consider the sufficiency and accuracy of the information and data presented by the domestic exporter, as well as the economic and political impact (perceived and expected) of the trade barrier to Brazil. Brazilian regulations do not specify a process that may lead to a formal investigation or proceeding seeking to tackle foreign trade barriers. There have been discussions about the implementation of a trade barrier proceeding, but such discussions have not yet progressed to a final result.

Measures against foreign trade barriers

What measures outside the WTO may the authority unilaterally take against a foreign trade barrier? Are any such measures currently in force?

Brazil traditionally adopts a diplomatic stance and cooperative approach with respect to trade barriers imposed by third countries, in line with its overall foreign trade policy. In this respect, it is the general approach of the Brazilian authorities that potential countermeasures seeking to induce the dismantling of a foreign trade barrier will follow the WTO Dispute Settlement rules, which will only allow for the imposition of countermeasures after positive rulings from a WTO Panel and the Appellate Body have been issued and after an arbitrator’s decision authorising the countermeasures.

Private-sector support

What support does the government expect from the private sector to bring a WTO case?

Only the MRE may officially represent Brazil before the WTO’s DSB. The MRE may also resort to private law firms to assist in such representation, which is carried out through public tender. Nonetheless, the affected private sector is unofficially expected to actively assist in the conduct of disputes, both in the context of building a case and of preparing a defence. Such engagement takes place during every stage of a WTO dispute, from the mustering of evidence and drafting of submissions to meetings with the WTO Panels and the Appellate Body.

Notable non-tariff barriers

What notable trade barriers other than retaliatory measures does your country impose on imports?

See question 18.