An import quota is a limit on the quantity of a good that can be produced abroad and sold domestically. It sets a physical limit on the quantity of a good that can be imported into a country in a given period of time. If a quota is put on a good, less of it is imported. Quotas, like other trade restrictions, are used to benefit the producers of a good in a domestic economy at the expense of all consumers of the good in that economy. The primary goal of import quotas is to reduce imports and increase domestic production of a good, service, or activity, thus "protect" domestic production by restricting foreign competition. As the quantity of importing the good is restricted, the price of the imported good increases thus encourages consumers to purchase more domestic products. In general, a quota is simply a legal quantity restriction placed on a good imported that is imposed by the domestic government.
Because the import quota prevents domestic consumers from buying an imported good, the supply of the good is no longer perfectly elastic at the world price. Instead, as long as the price of the good is above the world price, the license holders import as much as they are permitted, and the total supply of the good equals the domestic supply plus the quota amount. The price of the good adjusts to balance supply (domestic plus imported) and demand. The quota causes the price of the good to rise above the world price. The imported quantity demanded falls and the domestic quantity supplied rises. Thus, the import quota reduces the imports.
Because the quota raises the domestic price above the world price, domestic sellers are better off, and domestic buyers are worse off. In addition, the license holders are better off because they make a profit from buying at the world price and selling at the higher domestic price. Thus, import quotas decrease consumer surplus while increasing producer surplus and license-holder surplus.
While import quotas and other foreign trade policies can be beneficial to the aggregate domestic economy they tend to be most beneficial, and thus most commonly promoted by, domestic firms facing competition from foreign imports. Domestic firms benefit with higher sales, greater profits, and more income to resource owners. However, by increasing domestic prices and restricting accessing to imports, foreign trade policies also tend to be harmful to domestic consumers. [Source: wikipedia.com]
Sayed Farrukh Ahmed
Faculty of Business & Economics
Daffodil International University