A decade of elevated oil prices brought prosperity to many developing countries. Incomes rose, poverty shrank, macroeconomic buffers were rebuilt. The fiscal space for investing more in education and infrastructure increased, resulting in better sharing of prosperity. At the same time, higher commodity prices and surging global demand resulted in much more concentrated exports in all developing oil-rich countries. "Diversifying exports" became a priority for policy makers and development economists around the world. Historical experience and evidence to the contrary from successful resource rich countries notwithstanding, many widely believe that a more diversified export structure should be an important national goal and may well be a synonym for development, a goal that government can target and achieve. And a more diversified export structure typically meant a smaller share of commodity exports in total shipments abroad or a reduced concentration – as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschmann index – of exports.
I recently returned from a trip to West Africa during which I crossed the Benin-Nigeria border by car at the Seme border post. While waiting for our passports to go through lengthy controls and stamping, I observed the intense activity of the numerous cars, motorbikes and pedestrians passing through.
Sure enough, most of the women were on foot, and they were the ones who were submitted to the most intense scrutiny. While the men on motorbikes were able to ram their way through by refusing to slow down, the women all had to go through a narrow passage where they were subject to questioning and document requirements. It was quite apparent that women were being asked for bribes that men were able to waive by driving right though! I had been reading about how women are subject to more intense harassment at border crossings – this experience brought this to life very vividly.
It made me thankful for all the work we at the World Bank Group are doing to help women traders on the African continent.
The main theme of my job market paper can be summed in a comment that a farmer made during my primary data collection field trips.
"Before I had a cell phone I harvested my crop and then had to wait for a trader to buy my crops; now I talk to the trader and harvest my crops when he will buy it."
-Farmer in rural Pakistan
Foreign access rarely receives good press. Although over half of the world’s exclusive economic zones are subject to some form of foreign fishing arrangement, there is a perception that industrialized nations are "giving with one hand while taking away with the other." Criticism abounds regarding the role that foreign fleets play in overexploiting coastal state fish stocks, in engaging in illegal and unreported activity, in contributing to conflicts with small-scale fisheries and in generally undermining domestic fishing interests in vulnerable developing economies.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
Prince William of the United Kingdom gave a speech at the World Bank's International Corruption Hunters Alliance Conference on Monday in which he announced the establishment of a royal task force to work with the transportation industry to examine its part in illegal wildlife trade.
The task force is a part of the royal conservation organization, United for Wildlife, and "will call on companies to implement a 'zero tolerance' policy towards the trade," the Prince said. He went on to say, "Criminals are able to exploit weak and corrupt standards, so we must raise those standards, collectively."
The prince also linked wildlife poaching to terrorism and organized crime: “Criminal gangs turn vast profits from the illegal killing or capture of wildlife; armed groups and terrorists swap poached ivory for guns; and middle-men oil the wheels of the trade in return for reward.”
The speech was delivered one day before International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on December 9. This year’s theme, “Break the Corruption Chain”, urges people to avoid taking part in everyday acts of corruption that undermine education, health, justice, democracy and sustainable development in communities around the world.
In accordance with the Prince’s speech, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime previously published a video calling for an end to illegal trade in wildlife products.
Turkey’s bid to join the European Union (EU) may finally be getting “back on track,” according to the bloc’s top official for enlargement. And while that track may still have a number of hurdles to clear, recent research, carried out by the World Bank Group outlines several interim policy measures that could bring the sides closer together while also benefitting the Turkish economy.
Most goods already move freely between the two economies, under the EU-Turkey Customs Union established in 1995. But agriculture, as is often the case, has proved a sticking point and remains outside the Customs Union today.
A set of permanent institutions, established under the 1963 Ankara Agreement, have chipped away at agricultural trade restrictions. These have steadily provided technical support and helped to facilitate quick action when political opportunities have arisen. And today there is still opportunity to take action on agriculture—with or without becoming an EU Member State.
Africa’s imports of staple foods could more than triple in the next 15 years. Without an increase in crop yields and an improvement in the trade of surplus food from areas with good growing conditions to deficit zones, importing sufficient amounts of staple food could cost the continent upwards of US$150 billion per year by 2030.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. As the World Bank showed in its 2012 report, Africa Can Help Feed Africa, the continent could easily deliver improved food security to its citizens through increased regional trade.
Often the nearest source of inputs or best outlet for farm products is a across a border, yet high costs and unpredictable rules make trade difficult and discourage investments by small farmers in raising productivity and large investments by private companies in input supply and food marketing.
Facilitating regional trade is therefore more important than ever for reducing poverty and meeting Africa’s growing demand for staple foods.
Greater attention is now being devoted to trade facilitation measures. The 159 members of the WTO agreed during their December 2013 meeting in Bali on a Trade Facilitation Agreement. And the European Commission, the World Bank, and other donors have just launched the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP).
The TFSP is to help developing countries reform and modernize their border procedures. Such initiative is important as time delays at customs affect trade. Each additional day that a product is delayed prior to being shipped reduces trade by more than 1%. Put differently, each day is equivalent to a country distancing itself from its trade partners by about 70 km on average.
Emerging market multinationals (EMMs) have become increasingly salient players in global markets. In 2013, one out of every three dollars invested abroad originated from multinationals in emerging economies.
Up until now, we have had a limited understanding of the characteristics, motivations, and strategies of these firms. Why do EMMs decide to invest abroad? In which markets do they concentrate their investments and why? And how do their strategies and needs compare to those of traditional multinationals from developed countries?
In a book we will launch tomorrow at the World Bank, “New Voices in Investment,” we address these questions using a World Bank and UNIDO-funded survey of 713 firms from four emerging economies: Brazil, India, Korea, and South Africa.
- Emerging Markets
- Emerging Economies
- cross-border investment
- foreign direct investment
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Law and Regulation
- Global Economy
- Financial Sector
- The World Region
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Europe and Central Asia
- East Asia and Pacific