Bali, Indonesia has become the epicenter of critical new action on international trade. Between now and the end of 2013, the resort island in the Pacific will host two major international meetings where the focus will be on thinking differently about how the international community approaches trade policy. The focus, as our World Bank colleagues have urged in the past, will be on trade along global supply chains.
In December, the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference will convene in Bali. Expectations run high for a new agreement on trade facilitation. This agreement would concentrate not on traditional tariff barriers to trade, but rather on issues that have a particularly strong impact on supply chain performance – issues like customs modernization, streamlining import and export procedures, and regulatory transparency. Addressing these issues can dramatically reduce the costs associated with trade in goods and services and boost international trade. In fact, our World Bank research shows tremendous potential returns on aid to trade facilitation – returns of $697 in increased trade for every $1 of aid to trade policy and regulatory reform.