Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

WTO Makes Tariff Information of WTO Members Available

On July 9, 2009, the WTO announced a new comprehensive web-site database on customs duty rates of WTO Members. This should be a useful tool for businesses who export their goods internationally. This is a great WTO initiative. Go to the following link for access the database -

Anyone who is interested in retrieving this information (Users) can now search for any WTO members’ customs duty rates, as actually charged as well as legally bound maximums, and in many cases imports, down to a high level of detail. Users can obtain and compare the legally bound commitments on customs duty rates, which act as ceilings on the tariffs that WTO member governments can set and are known as “bound rates”, with the rates that governments actually charge on imports, which can be lower, are known as “applied rates” and have a direct impact on trade.

The data is standardized by making it available at the same level of detail. This is achieved by identifying products by 6-digit codes under the World Customs Organization’s internationally agreed “Harmonized System" (HS) for defining product categories.

Under the system, the broadest categories of products are identified by two digits (e.g. 04 is dairy products, eggs and other edible animal products). These are then sub-divided by adding more digits: the higher the number of digits, the more detailed the categories. For example the four-digit code 0403 is a group of products derived from milk. At six digits, 0403.10 is yoghurt; at the eight-digit level, 0403.10.11 could be low-fat yoghurt.

The codes are standard up to six digits. For that reason, the WTO’s data is presented at six digits, the most detailed level that can be compared internationally. The database allows data to be downloaded in a range of formats such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files (to see which products are covered by the six-digit codes, scroll over to the right of the table).

Alternatively users can also download Excel spreadsheet files for individual countries, on each member country’s page on the WTO website (see for example "Canada")


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