As recently as 2017, cargo truck drivers bringing shipments of goods across the border of Guatemala and Honduras often brought along one unexpected item: a hammock. This is because clearing customs and traveling one kilometer between the two countries could take up to 10 hours. While waiting in line, drivers would need to take a break.
China has assured the world that its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will be green. While broad polices have been proposed to support this pledge, there is little evidence of project guidance or implementation. Given the history of negative environmental impacts from large infrastructure projects across the globe, the expansion of transportation infrastructure planned under BRI is worrisome. To clarify environmental risks from BRI road and rail development and examine best practices to address risks, researchers from Duke University have produced the working paper Reducing Environmental Risks from BRI Investments in Transportation Infrastructure.
When it comes to trade, speed is of the essence. This is especially true for developing countries integrating with global markets. When goods and inputs are time sensitive, delays can be particularly costly. For this reason, the time it takes to get goods from one place to another – trading times – is a key variable determining how successful a country will be in global markets.
What is the best single measure of a country’s import tariffs? As we know, countries don’t have a single tariff, but a landscape of tariffs and other trade barriers. For comparison purposes, it is useful to distill the array of tariffs down to a single number.
In terms of tariffs, there are two common ones: the simple average Most Favored Nation (MFN) applied tariff and the weighted average MFN applied tariff. (MFN is the tariff that WTO members and other favored partners receive.) Neither is perfect.