Doing Business records the time and cost associated with the logistical process of exporting and importing goods. Doing Business measures the time and cost (excluding tariffs) associated with three sets of procedures—documentary compliance, border compliance and domestic transport—within the overall process of exporting or importing a shipment of goods. The most recent round of data collection for the project was completed in June 2017. See the methodology for more information.

Given the importance of trade digitalization, in Doing Business 2018, the Trading across Borders questionnaire included research questions on the availability and status of implementation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Single Window (SW) systems. With this information, Doing Business built a comprehensive dataset on the adoption and level of sophistication of electronic platforms in 190 economies. These data are not used to compute the distance to frontier score or ranking of the ease of doing business. The new dataset on EDI and SW systems is available here.

Doing Business Reforms

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL TRADE

International trade is a cornerstone of economic development, as access to international 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 2016/17, 22 improved their existing electronic systems for exports or imports, reducing the time of documentary and border compliance by more than 760 hours overall. More than half of this time savings is associated with the enhancement of existing electronic systems. Zambia reduced the time to complete documentary and border compliance by about 30%, underscoring the impact of roll out of the ASYCUDA World system, an automated customs data management system, to multiple customs offices nationwide. In 2017 Zambia increased the functionality of the platform, enabling the electronic submission of declarations, supporting documents and the online payment of customs fees. Following its upgrade from ASYCUDA to the Sistema Único de Modernización Aduanera (Single Customs Modernization System; SUMA), Bolivia has enabled traders to clear their goods electronically, submitting customs declarations and supporting documents online and eliminating the need for visits to multiple government agencies to obtain clearance. As a result, Bolivia reduced the time required to prepare and submit all required documentation by 72 hours overall. Eleven economies significantly upgraded their trade logistics infrastructure in 2016/17. Inadequate infrastructure is one of the main burdens in international trade.(4) As part of its National Development Plan 2013-2017, Angola has significantly rehabilitated and upgraded the port of Luanda, expanding the terminals, adding new berths and acquiring equipment. This has resulted in improvements in handling processes and reduced border compliance time for both exports and imports.

The regions implementing the most reforms making it easier to trade across borders in 2016/17 were Sub-Saharan Africa (46% of reforms in this area) and East Asia and the Pacific (18%). Together, the economies in these two regions account for nearly 64% of reforms in this area as captured by Doing Business 2018. The remainder of reforms were made by economies in Latin America and the Caribbean (15%), the Middle East and North Africa (9%), South Asia (9%) and Europe and Central Asia (3%).

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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-DB2018

= Doing Business reform making it easier to do business. = Change making it more difficult to do business.