The Millennium Development Goals
Goal 8: Market Access Indicators by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO

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Indicator 8.6. Proportion of total developed country imports (by value and excluding arms) from developing countries and from the least developed countries, admitted free of duty


  • Developed country imports from developing countries, admitted duty free, percentage

  • Developed country imports from the LDCs, admitted duty free, percentage

Contact point in international agency

Chief Statistician, WTO (


This indicator is one of two trade/market access indicators (8.6 and 8.7) that have been defined to reflect targets 8.A (Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system) and 8.B (Address the special needs of Least Developed Countries) of Goal 8 (Develop a global partnership for development). More specifically, indicator 8.6 is the proportion of duty free imports (excluding arms) into developed countries from developing and least developed countries.

For the purpose of calculating Indicator 8.6, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in North America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the EU(25 countries included since 2004) in Europe are considered “developed” regions or areas, following the common accepted practice used for MDG indicators. Developing countries are those not listed as developed or transition countries.

The list of least developed countries (LDCs) has been agreed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Committee for Development Policy, Economic and Social Council. It includes the following 50 countries, classified by region: Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Saõ Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia; Asia and the Pacific: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Yemen; Latin America and the Caribbean: Haiti.

Agricultural, clothing and textile groups follow the definition in WTO agreements based on the Harmonized System 1992, transposed to current versions by WTO Secretariat. Agricultural products correspond to Harmonized System 1992, chapters 01 to 24 less fish and fish products (chap. 03); in addition to parts of chapters 29, 33, 35, 38, 41, 43, 50 to 53. Textile is mainly covered in chapters 50 to 60. The bulk of clothing products are found in chapters 61-63.

Methods of computation

The sample does not cover all developed countries because of availability of comprehensive detailed data on imports. Trade and tariff information at the national tariff line level covers Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA.

The calculation of indicator 8.6 is a straightforward ratio of the value (current US dollar) of those developed countries duty free imports from least developed and developing countries, compared with the total value of imports from these respective country groups.

Comments and limitations

There are a number of limitations in the ability of indicators 8.6 to fully reflect the level of openness of the trading system:

Accurate estimates on non-tariff measures do not exist, thus the calculations on market access are limited to tariffs only. These are only part of the trade limitation factors, especially when looking at exports of developing or least developed countries under non-reciprocal preferential treatment, that set criteria for eligibility.

A full coverage of preferential schemes of developed countries has been used for the computation, but preferential treatment may not be fully used by developing countries' exporters for different reasons such as the inability of certain exporters to meet eligibility criteria (i.e., complying with rules of origin). As there is no accurate statistical information on the extent of the actual utilisation of each of these preferences, it is assumed that they are fully utilised.

Indicator 8.6 only covers tariffs in developed markets. The potential benefit of trade between developing countries, a growing share of world trade, is disregarded.

Indicator 8.6 only addresses the tariff situation facing developing countries' exports and not their own tariff profiles, despite the fact that trade openness , by itself, is conducive to export promotion.

Duty free treatment is an indicator of market access, but is not always synonymous with preferential treatment for beneficiary countries, because a number of MFN tariffs are already at, or close to, zero, especially for fuels and minerals. International agreements on IT products also offer duty-free treatment for components and equipments used for production purpose.

Sources of discrepancies between global and national figures

Does not apply

Process of obtaining data

Tariff and import data are based on an ITC, UNCTAD and WTO common data base. WTO data are received directly from WTO members and are processed and verified. They are jointly validated by the Members themselves. Data from ITC and UNCTAD are also taken from official sources and are subject to substantial verification procedures.

Treatment of missing values

All calculations for the sample of developed importing countries are based on official data. There are very few occurrences of missing values; when a specific tariff line is missing, the previous year value is used.

Data availability

The indicator is available starting in 1996. The reference is the calendar year January to December. Calculations could not be done for the years 1990 to 1995, because consistent tariff data were not available. Import and tariff data used are for the EU, USA, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, and Australia. These markets cover more than 97% of developed countries' imports from developing or least developed countries. These data include exports from all their developing and least developed trading country partners.

Regional and global estimates

The website provides data at national level, as well as average for several regional groupings.

Expected time of release

Market access indicators 8.6 and 8.7 are generally compiled around March of each year. At that time (say year y), the indicator is compiled for (y-2), corresponding to the availability of detailed bi-lateral trade flows.