WASHINGTON, DC – The world is now in the fourth year of the Great Recession. So far, the economies belonging to the World Trade Organization have resisted the kind of widespread protectionism that would make a bad situation much worse. But protectionist pressures are building as weary politicians hear more and more calls for economic nationalism.
The WTO’s best defense of open trade is a good offense. A new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would benefit all by increasing developing countries’ capacity to trade, strengthening the WTO’s development mandate, and boosting global economic growth. More than a decade after the launch of the Doha Round of global free-trade talks, this agreement could be a down payment on the commitment that WTO members have made to linking trade and development.
Developing countries stand to gain the most from improving trade facilitation. The right support would help traders in poorer countries to compete and integrate into global supply chains.
There are rich opportunities for gains. Inefficiencies in processing and clearing goods put traders in developing countries at a competitive disadvantage. Outdated and inefficient border procedures and inadequate infrastructure often mean high transaction costs, long delays, opportunities for corruption, and an additional 10-15% in the cost of getting goods to market – even more in landlocked countries.