Doing Business Reforms
FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL TRADE
International trade is a cornerstone of economic development, as access to global markets is strongly correlated with economic growth.(1) Although tariffs on exports and imports have fallen on average in recent decades, non-tariff measures have gained increasing prominence.(2) Optimizing time and costs in the trade sector is strongly associated with trade growth, diversification and economic expansion.(3) Accordingly, global trade policies have shifted their focus from tariffs to trade facilitation, including the elimination of trade-related transactions costs. Doing Business tracks global trade policies and reforms that facilitate trade by implementing cost-effective, time-efficient and transparent regulatory practices.
Of the 33 economies that undertook reforms making it easier to trade across borders in 2017/18, 25 improved their existing electronic systems for exports or imports, reducing the time of documentary and border compliance by more than 1,500 hours overall. Electronic systems for filing, transferring, processing and exchanging information have become important tools for managing flows of information in complex trading environments. Across economies, regardless of income level, allowing electronic submission and processing of customs-related documents has been one of the most common and effective ways to reduce delays in the trading process. The experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo highlights the importance of electronic systems in cross-border trade. In 2016, the country introduced a single window (SW) for trade, which began as a pilot. The following year the government continued the implementation of the SW, publishing information on new requirements on the SW website and providing training workshops to the private sector. The government also opened trade facilitation centers equipped with Internet-connected computers to assist and train users. By implementing the SW together with the accompanying training and communication, the Democratic Republic of Congo reduced document preparation time by 122 hours for exports and 42 hours for imports; border compliance time was also cut, by 219 hours for exports and 252 hours for imports. Similarly, in July 2017, Uzbekistan introduced a new version of its national trade single window’s website, allowing for the electronic request and payment of various certificates required for export, such as certificates of origin and phytosanitary certificates. With the implementation of these new features, the overall time of documentary compliance for export decreased by 78 hours.
Thirteen economies implemented reforms impacting border infrastructure or management in 2017/18. Inadequate infrastructure is one of the main burdens in international trade.(4) In the second half of 2017, Morocco’s Port of Tangier improved the flow of outgoing and incoming cargo after separate areas for the handling of exports and imports were established. A new scanner was also installed in the export area. As a result, border compliance time both exports and imports decreased.
The regions implementing the most reforms making it easier to trade across borders in 2017/18 were Sub-Saharan Africa (30% of reforms in this area) and Europe and Central Asia (27%). The remainder of reforms were made by economies in the Middle East and North Africa (15%), East Asia and the Pacific (12%), Latin America and the Caribbean (9%), the OECD high-income group (3%) and South Asia (3%).
1. World Bank Group and WTO 2015.
2. Hoekman and Nicita 2011.
3. Arvis and others 2010.
4.Lanz and others 2016.
TRADING ACROSS BORDERS REFORMS BY ECONOMY DB2008-DB2019