A government-imposed trade restriction that limits the number, or in certain cases the value, of goods and services that can be imported or exported during a particular time period. Quotas are used in international trade to help regulate the volume of trade between countries. They are sometimes imposed on specific goods and services to reduce imports, thereby increasing domestic production. In theory, this helps protect domestic production by restricting foreign competition.


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Quotas are different than tariffs (or customs), which places a tax on imports or exports in and out of a country. Both quotas and tariffs are protective measures imposed by governments to try to control trade between countries. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, a federal law enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is in charge of regulating international trade, collecting customs and enforcing U.S. trade regulations. Smuggling - the illegal transfer of goods into a country - is a negative side effect of quotas and tariffs.

  1. Free Trade Area

    A group of countries that invoke little or no price control in ...
  2. Tariff

    A tax imposed on imported goods and services. Tariffs are used ...
  3. Dumping

    In international trade, the export by a country or company of ...
  4. Voluntary Export Restraint - VER

    A trade restriction on the quantity of a good that an exporting ...
  5. Protectionism

    Government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international ...
  6. Import

    A good or service brought into one country from another. Along ...
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