World Bank aid for trade

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The World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group has issued the first comprehensive and independent assessment of Bank assistance for trade. The report finds that despite greater openness, full benefits from trade are yet to be realized. The $38 billion in World Bank financing for trade programs since 1987 helped poor countries open markets, but were not as effective as hoped in boosting exports and growth, and fighting poverty. The evaluation asks whether we were doing the right projects, whether we were approaching these projects correctly and offers recommendations for the future.

Update: FT editorial comment on the report, stressing the importance of targetting in-border regulations and corruption:

But in terms of the developing countries' own responsibilities, it costs little, at least in cash, to clear bribe-seeking bureaucrats out of the way of exporters. The bank will provide technical assistance; governments must find the political will.

Integration into the global economy is one of the most powerful ways a developing country can enrich its citizens. But Doha cannot be turned into a "development round" for the poorest WTO members just by cutting tariffs. Weak developing countries need more than market access. They need something to sell, and the means to get it to market.

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