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An import license is a document issued by a national government authorizing the importation of certain goods into its territory. Import licenses are considered to be non-tariff barriers to trade when used as a way to discriminate against another country's goods in order to protect a domestic industry from foreign competition.
Each license specifies the volume of imports allowed, and the total volume allowed should not exceed the quota. Licenses can be sold to importing companies at a competitive price, or simply a fee. However, it is argued that this allocation methods provides incentives for political lobbying and bribery. Government may put certain restrictions on what is imported as well as the amount of imported goods and services. For example, if a business wishes to import agricultural products such as vegetables, then the government may be concerned about the impact of such importations of the local market and thus impose a restriction.
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