With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Rich countries and some emerging powers offer poorer developing countries a hodgepodge of preferential market access arrangements intended to create opportunities for jobs, exports, investment, and development. But the programs are often flawed and lack coordination. This initiative aims to reform trade-preference programs to expand market access for developing countries, especially the poorest.
Persistent delays in concluding multilateral trade negotiations through the World Trade Organization (WTO), combined with the global economic crisis, increase the risk that the poorest developing countries will be further marginalized in the global economy. This is already happening to some degree as a result of the impact of the economic crisis on trade flows, and could be exacerbated if delays in concluding the Doha Round encourage the spread of regional and bilateral trade agreements. Unilateral trade preference programs are an important mechanism for mitigating these effects.
High-income countries have already committed, via the Millennium Development Goals and again at the 2005 WTO ministerial in Hong Kong, to provide duty-free, quota-free market access for the least developed countries. Those commitments could provide a foundation for effective preference programs. But existing programs are often overly restrictive and complex, and lacking in coordination within and across countries.
Representatives from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are in Hawaii this week trying to close the deal. US negotiators are insisting that Canada must reform its supply management system for dairy and allow more imports, while conceding that maybe the United States could let in just a wee bit more foreign sugar, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the US supply management program for sugar! Being a big, powerful country is great. But if you’re a small country, and particularly a relatively poor one, trade negotiations are trickier. And if you are a poor country outside the negotiations, you have no say at all on how the negotiations will affect your interests.
After a longer-than expected settling in period, the Obama administration is finally moving on trade policy. What is unclear - and the early signs are troubling - is whether U.S. policy will also encompass the president's promise to use trade as a tool of development.