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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 proceduresdocumentary compliance, border compliance and domestic transportwithin the overall process of exporting or importing a shipment of goods. The trading across borders indicator set assesses the efficiency of trade processes related to control agencies, customs and border authorities, among others. The most recent round of data collection for the project was completed in May 2020. See the methodology for more information. Video presentation of the methodology is also available.

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 policies and reforms that facilitate trade by implementing cost-effective, time-efficient and transparent regulatory practices.

Twenty-three economies undertook reforms making it easier to trade across borders in 2019/20. Around 65% of the reforms captured by the trading across borders indicators were in low- and lower-middle-income economies. Overall, Sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the highest share of economies implementing trade reforms in Doing Business 2021.

Eleven economies improved their electronic systems for filing, processing and exchanging trade information in 2019/20. In 2019, Burkina Faso’s electronic single window system – Système de Liaison Virtuelle des Operations d'Importation et d'Exportation (SYLVIE) – became operational and was adopted by the majority of traders. The system allows traders to electronically submit documents, while also facilitates the exchange of information between customs and other agencies, including the tax authority. In combination with the enhanced connection between Burkina Faso’s customs system and that of neighboring countries, these initiatives helped reduce documentary compliance and border compliance time.

Inadequate infrastructure is one of the main burdens in international trade.4 Three economies implemented reforms impacting border infrastructure in Doing Business 2021. In July 2019, the government of Bahrain upgraded the infrastructure at Khalifa Bin Salman port and deployed next-generation scanners. As a result, port handling and operation efficiency has improved, shortening the border compliance time for imports by 9 hours.

Trade reforms demonstrate the importance of cross-border cooperation in ensuring efficient customs clearance. On February 7, 2020, the Nimule One-stop Border Post (OSBP) – a joint customs and border checkpoint between South Sudan and Uganda – was inaugurated. The newly constructed OSBP allows various border agencies to work in close vicinity that enhanced interagency coordination and regional cooperation. Nimule OSBP also has upgraded infrastructure and better capacity to process declarations as well as handle administrative payments. Thanks to the new OSBP, importers in South Sudan have benefited from less congestion and waiting time for clearance and inspection at the border crossing, decreasing the time for import border compliance.  


1 World Bank Group and WTO 2015.
2 Hoekman and Nicita 2011.
3 Arvis and others 2010.
4 Lanz and others 2016.


Reforms implemented in 2019/20 are available here.


Summaries of reforms by economy, since DB2008:

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