Gary Lineker, the British footballer, is not only known for his talent on the pitch, but also for this memorable quote: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win”. Last weekend his theory proved correct. For the first time ever, two German teams contested in the Champions League Final. Bayern Munich (winner in 2001) played Borussia Dortmund (winner in 1997).
A large increase in crude oil prices stands out among numerous factors to explain most of the jump in food prices over the last decade. Indeed, as we found in a recent World Bank study, oil prices were more important to food prices than several other long-term price drivers, including exchange rates, interest rates and income. This finding has important implications for policy and for governments hoping to mitigate the negative effects of food price swings.
Initially, the post-2004 commodity price increases bore resemblance to the temporary increases of the 1950s (Korean War) and the 1970s (oil crisis). But it is becoming clear that the current situation has a more permanent character. Most commodity prices are now two or three times higher than they were a decade ago. Indeed, nominal prices of energy, fertilizers, and precious metals tripled between the two time periods we compared (1997-2004 and 2005-2007). Metal prices went up by more than 150 percent in that time, and most food prices doubled.
Animation schools in Cambodia are using the power of international trade to reach the poor. In recent years, a number of institutions have emerged to train young Khmers how to draw the characters used in advertisements, cartoons and films. One of the institutes is run by a French school whose graduates have worked on blockbusters such as the Harry Potter, Shrek and Batman movies. These schools are tapping into a multi-billion-dollar global industry and demonstrating Cambodia’s potential to engage in high-tech services trade. They also confirm that small firms and even community-led projects in LDCs can participate in trade in services, while helping children rise out of poverty.
Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
Easy access to markets, public services, and jobs is indispensable for citizens to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve progress. In Tanzania, as in most other countries in the region, roads are the predominant mode of transport for people and goods. However, insufficient transportation facilities and limited mobility are an everyday reality:
- In 2010, only 1.8 per cent of Tanzanian households owned a car; significantly less than in Kenya (5.6 per cent in 2008/09) or Uganda (3.2 per cent in 2011).
- Motorbike ownership is also not common – only 2.9 per cent of households on Mainland claimed ownership of this vehicle in 2010. The situation in Zanzibar though was different with one in ten households owning a motorcycle or scooter.
- Affordable public transport remains elusive for many Tanzanians: In 2010, more than 40 per cent of women who recently gave birth at home cited distance and lack of transport as the factors that prevented them from delivering at a health facility.
The breakup of the former Soviet Union left more than a dozen newly independent states in its wake. What were the top priorities for these newly-minted governments? Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of them got things started by becoming members of existing international organizations and acceding to international multilateral legal instruments, both rites of passage as symbolic as they are pragmatic for any new country. But they also got quickly to work establishing dozens of bilateral road transport agreements (BRTAs) with other nations. BRTAs, it turns out, form the bedrock of many countries’ transport and trade integration strategies, and they are the first type of agreement concluded in any initiation of foreign trade relations. In other words, when it comes to trade, it all starts with road freight transport.
Read the first of this two-part blog post here.
The idea of a peer learning network for tax administrators came when I realized that tax authorities in different countries had many of the same questions: How do we initiate risk management? How are other countries dealing with compliance issues? How do countries ensure speedy VAT refunds and yet prevent fraudulent claims? And so on.
So why not get the tax officials from different countries together and provide a platform to discuss their challenges, experiences and innovative ways of solving problems. Mix them with a dose of tax experts from developed tax systems, et voila! That’s how TAXGIP (Tax Administrators eXchange for Global Innovative Practices) was born – it provides opportunities to exchange knowledge and good practices, and share experiences.
About "Notes From the Field": With this occasional feature, we let World Bank professionals who are conducting interesting trade-related projects around the globe explain some of the challenges and triumphs of their day-to-day work. The views expressed here are personal and should not be attributed to the World Bank.
The interview below was conducted with Borko Handjiski, a senior economist in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network. Until his recent move to the Africa region office, Mr. Handjiski was the regional trade coordinator for the Europe and Central Asia region. He spoke with us about efforts to liberalize trade in services in the Balkan countries, a subject he and Lazar Sestovic wrote about in a 2011 study, “Barriers to Trade in Services in the CEFTA Region.” In the interview, which has been edited for clarity, Mr. Handjiski explains how the World Bank is helping the Balkan countries better understand the benefits of liberalizing services trade and work with stakeholders in formalizing a regional trade agreement.
Co-authored with Luc Christiaensen and Aly Sanoh
For a decade and a half now, Africa has been growing robustly, and the region’s economic prospects remain good. In per capita terms, GDP has expanded at 2.4 percent per year, good for an average increase in GDP per capita of 50 percent since 1996.
But the averages also hide a substantial degree of variation. For example, GDP per capita in resource-rich countries grew 2.2 times faster during 1996-2011 than in resource-poor countries (Figure 1). Though not the only factor explaining improved performance—fast growth has also been recorded in a number of resource-poor countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mozambique (before its resource discoveries)—buoyant commodity prices and the expansion of mineral resource exploitation have undoubtedly played an important role in spurring growth in several of Africa’s countries. Even more, with only an expected 4 or 5 countries on the African continent without mineral exploitation by 2020, they will continue to do so in the future. Yet, despite the better growth performance, poverty declined substantially less in resource-rich countries.
Sometimes trade policy works through unexpected channels. In the case of Indonesia, opening the services sector to foreign investment appears to be a way to significantly boost the productivity of domestic manufacturing firms, according to recent joint research from the World Bank’s Office in Indonesia and the International Trade Department. This finding has implications for governments around the world that have restricted foreign investment in services – such as transport, electricity and communications – that are vital to other productive sectors in the economy.
Maria knows she is good at selecting ripe tomatoes, but she doesn’t know any women who own nurseries like the one where she works in Honduras. Susan does housekeeping for a hotel in Kenya, but there is little chance that she would ever lead a safari. Salma, at a call center in Egypt, can calm down angry customers, but she has never seen a female manager in her office.
Global value chains (GVCs) are essential to modern trade, and women’s labor is essential to many products and services that are traded across countries. But many limitations hold women back from participating more fully and equally to men in this important and growing global labor force, as we show in a collaborative project by the International Trade Department and the Gender Division at the World Bank. Though the names above are fictional, the situations are representative of what we found in case studies in the horticulture sector in Honduras, the tourism sector in Kenya and the call center sector in the Arab Republic of Egypt.