Market access for goods means the conditions, tariff and Non-tariff measures (NTMs), set by countries for the entry of specific goods into their markets. In the WTO, tariff commitments for goods are agreed upon and set out in each member's schedules of concessions on goods. The schedules represent commitments not to apply tariffs above the listed rates — these rates are “bound”. Under WTO rules, bound rates may not be raised without compensating the affected members.

Non-tariff measures (NTMs) are non-tariff policy measures that affect international trade. NTMs cover a broad range of measures both directly and indirectly related to trade, and their use has risen as tariff rates have fallen under subsequent WTO negotiation rounds. In many cases, NTMs can be classified as non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs). Some areas of NTMs are dealt with under specific WTO agreements, notably the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the Anti-dumping agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the Agreement on Safeguards. WTO Members seek to continually improve market access through the regular WTO work programme and through negotiations such as those launched at the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001.

Market access and import regulations

Countries have various different systems controlling the import of products. Often authorization from certification bodies and/or international product certification is required. An overview of market access regulations can be given for example by http://fita.org/countries/ or http://www.macmap.org/.


Market Access is also used in Pharmacoeconomics and refers to the process by which a company gets a drug to market so that it becomes available for patients. Access is defined as a patient's ability to obtain medical care. Ease of access is determined by such factors as the availability of medical services and their acceptability to the patient, location of health care facilities, the transportation, the hours of operation and cost of care.1 Evidence-Based Market Access (see Evidence-based medicine) refers to a process for producing Market Access reports based on scientific, preferably peer-reviewed and referenced material.


  • Pashos C, Klein E, Wanke L, (ed.). ISPOR Lexicon. 1st ed. Princeton, NJ: International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research;1998.

Useful Databases on Market Access

  • ITC's Market Access Map, interactive portal providing information on customs tariffs and market requirements.
  • ITC's Non-Tariff Measures Business Survey database, including regulatory and procedural obstacles that trading companies face both at home and abroad.