Trade Barriers

Trade Barriers

Trade Barriers are essentially government-placed restrictions on trade between nations. Trade barriers can take many forms and are classified in two main categories:

  • Tariff barriers, and
  • Non-tariff barriers (NTBs)

Over the last decade, international trade has become more open with the reduction in tariffs and removal of quotas following WTO rules; however non tariff barriers have risen steadily. Almost all countries use some type of NTBs to protect their domestic industries from rising imports.

Know more about Non-Tariff Barriers

MSMEs are more vulnerable to the effects of trade barriers than larger companies, as the former have limited resources to absorb risks in the highly competitive market. Some of the sectors greatly affected by the NTBs include agricultural products, marine products, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles, leather and chemicals.

There are several notifications that are being issued by WTO member countries on the non tariff barriers like the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) measures. It is becoming very difficult for an exporter to keep a track of all these developments. Under the guidelines of Department of Commerce, the Centre for WTO Studies, IIFT has started web-based portals on the TBT and SPS notification to facilitate this information. Use of this facility presently is free of charge for any “Registered User” (including both exporters and importer). The use of this database is by way of a search/query command by which a country specific, product specific or year wise basis the SPS & TBT measures can be obtained. The portals can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary portal
  • Technical Barriers to Trade portal

Country and Product-wise Information on Trade Barriers

The ‘Market Access Map’, developed by the Geneva-based International Trade Center (ITC) is an ideal tool for SME exporters in search of information on tariff and non-tariff barriers faced by their exports to counties across the world.

Market Access Map covers customs tariffs (import duties) and other measures applied by 187 importing countries to products from 239 countries and territories. Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status and preferential applied import tariff rates are shown for products at the most detailed national tariff line level.

Market Access Map has been designed to support exporters, importers, trade promoters, policy analysts and trade negotiators. Use it to find a tariff. Compare yourself to your competitors. Or use its advanced features to prepare for trade negotiations by simulating the effects of tariff reductions.

Free for users in developing countries

The Market Access Map is free-to-use for users in developing counties including India, thanks to financial contributions from ITC's Global Trust Fund and the World Bank. You may create a free account for accessing the ITC’s Market Analysis Tools.

Guide to Registering on the ITC Website


The ‘Market Access Map’ includes:

  • MFN customs duties as well as multilateral, regional and bilateral preferences
  • Bound tariffs
  • Tariff-quotas : multilateral and bilateral
  • Anti-dumping duties
  • Rules of Origin and Certificates of Origin
  • Trade flows : import/export statistics
  • Import Tariffs : ad valorem, specific and ad valorem equivalents of the specific tariffs

The tool helps answer questions that SME exporters typically have…..


  • What tariff does my product face when I export it to ……?
  • Which countries offer my product the most favorable market access conditions? (Examples of tariff barriers Indian Leather exports face across the globe)
  • What are the opportunities for market diversification?
  • What tariffs do my competitors (other countries) face in each potential market?
  • From where can I source materials to make the most of my country's preferential and free trade agreements?

A Guide on How to Use the Market Access Map

World Tariff Profiles 2009

This joint publication (ITC, WTO, UNCTAD) provides information on market access (tariffs imposed on imports) and analysis of the market access conditions in exports.
The publication is presented in three main parts:

  • The first part shows summary statistics for all countries and territories for all products, as well as a break-down into agricultural and non-agricultural products.
  • The second part shows for each of these countries and territories, one full page with disaggregation by sectors and duty ranges. It also contains a section on the market access conditions faced in their respective major export markets.
  • The third part contains a summary table on concessions on Other Duties and Charges (ODCs).
  • The standardized presentation allows for analyses and comparisons between countries and sectors and between bound and applied tariffs. It is aimed at both specialists and non-specialists alike.

World Tariff Profiles (2009) Published by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)


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