An orderly marketing agreement is a non-legal contract entered into by the national government, which stipulates that a sovereign state must refrain from exporting goods to a sovereign state that negotiates in a targeted manner. These agreements relate directly to voluntary export restrictions, safeguard clauses and leakage clauses. Ordered marketing agreements are primarily bilateral agreements between the governments of two countries and any changes to the agreement must be approved by both parties.  Only the United States has orderly marketing agreements for imports of textiles, steel, automobiles, electronics and footwear.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a marketing agreement was reached in the steel industry. This agreement came when the U.S. government called on the steel industry, mainly from Japan and Europe. This is the idea of self-limiting steel products in the U.S. market.
During this period, a letter from the Japanese and European steel industry was sent to the United States to present the action plan. Kissinger`s Consumer Central stated that the agreement was not a formal measure and was more informal than most marketing agreements. This is why ordered marketing agreements are strictly state and formal, in which voluntary agreements are less formal. Voluntary detention agreements are not legally binding and are used by the exporting country to avoid major trade problems.  Ordered marketing agreements deal directly with political tensions in importing countries where the volume of imports is increasing. A disruption in competitive import production can occur when a certain import into a country suddenly increases. This would result in undesirable economic problems for the factors of production concerned, so that an orderly marketing regime could be put in place to deal with the increase in imports. Orderly marketing regimes contribute to protection against more sustainable protectionist measures, such as import quotas and tariffs.  These agreements are also restrictive and often have effects on prices, international relations and free trade. Protectionist strategies implemented under orderly marketing agreements include import quotas, export supply management and trade flow control. The application of orderly marketing regimes generally extends over one to five years, but can be permanently extended to a period of ten years or more.  Voluntary detention agreements and ordered marketing agreements are considered shadow measures and have been banned by the World Trade Organization since 1995.
All grey area measures in operation at the time were discontinued in 1999.  Ordered marketing agreements also address the difference between binding and non-binding agreements. Ordered marketing agreements are included in self-limitation agreements; However, voluntary retention agreements may also cover trade agreements between industries and governments.