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    Putting Market Access Issues on the Map


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2006

    © Jupiterimages Corp.

    Developing countries can use ITC's Market Access Map to analyse market access conditions for the Doha round of trade talks.

    When it comes to keeping existing export markets and finding new ones, understanding market access conditions remains a key challenge for developing countries. The WTO Ministerial meeting in December 2005 renewed the pressure on countries worldwide to agree on ways to cut tariffs and other trade barriers, meaning that 2006 will be an important year for global trade talks.

    ITC's tariff and trade policy analysis tool, Market Access Map, is ready to be of help to developing countries. It provides customs tariffs and trade data of both WTO member countries and most non-members. This information is usually complex and scattered across many sources, but Market Access Map brings it together in one place, giving users a quick overview of current and future market conditions.

    Stay abreast of market conditions

    Companies and trade policy-makers that operate without up-to-date information or appropriate analysis do so at their peril. The results of a recent study by Nepal's Garment Association are a sobering reminder.

    Nepal's garment sector contributes over 40% of the country's export earnings, with around 80% of clothing exports destined for the United States. The study found that despite more attractive tariffs in markets such as Australia, Canada, the European Union and Japan, Nepalese exporters still focused on the US, where they were losing market share.

    Why? Until 31 December 2004, the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and its predecessor, the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA), allowed big developed markets like the United States to restrict imports of textiles and clothing through quotas. This gave clothing exporters in many less-competitive least developed countries years of export market security. However, 2005 saw the end of quotas, and a pressing need for companies and industry associations to understand and adjust to new international market access conditions.

    But, according to the Garment Association's study, Nepalese exporters failed to respond. "The opportunities have not been exploited so far," the report found. "Lack of detailed information on various tariff regimes and preferential rules of origin had actually restrained [Nepalese exporters'] capacity to face the post MFA situation… [This] not only resulted in creating difficulties in retaining their position in the American market, but also in missed opportunities elsewhere…"

    Nepal's Garment Association, which used Market Access Map to conduct this study, found the tool "valuable for Nepalese apparel manufacturers and traders to keep abreast of the latest information on tariff barriers, one of the widely used restrictions in trade in textiles and clothing".

    Nepal's study was one of 12 conducted by trade support institutions around the world, sponsored by ITC's World Tr@de Net Programme.


    Free analysis for developing countries

    In 2006, access to Market Access Map is free for developing countries' trade negotiators and their teams, thanks to a US$ 700,000 fund from Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and US$ 200,000 from the United States Agency for International Development (the latter for least developed countries that are WTO members).

    For more information about Market Access Map, see http://www.macmap.org