Colleagues Amanda Glassman and Bill Savedoff posted an excellent piece on the role of the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, and other nontrade agencies in helping developing countries fend off the “Big Tobacco Bullies.” They argue that agencies like the World Bank could use their money, technical assistance, and policy dialogue to provide big visible support for developing countries to implement their anti-tobacco policies.
CGD Policy Blogs
The Bali package included agreements to facilitate trade by modernizing customs procedures and to ensure that minimum access for agricultural imports subject to quotas is achieved in practice. On food security, there was, at the end, a resolution of the dispute over a “peace clause” that will allow India to shield its food stockholding program from trade challenges for at least four years.
After some modest tweaks over the years, the trade component of the Commitment to Development Index got a makeover in 2013—not a new face, but a nip and tuck here and there. The latest CDI includes a more direct measure of tacit barriers to trade from the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators on the time and cost to import, exclusive of tariffs. The trade component also now recognizes the growing importance of trade in services—and barriers to it—thanks to another team of World Bank economists that developed the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index.
Compared to my husband and other federal workers that suddenly find themselves with lots of free time but no pay, my problem is trivial. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to do my job if I can’t get data! After reading US Trade Representative Froman’s speech at the World Trade Organization’s public forum yesterday, I wanted to look at data on US trade with poor Asian countries.
The Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, recently released an important report on possibilities for renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The report uses a standard trade model to explore the impact of various scenarios. It has the imprimatur of two prestigious institutions and was launched at a high-profile event with US Trade Representative Michael Froman as featured speaker, so it could be an important contribution to the debate over the future of AGOA.
The news from Syria just continues to get worse and there is no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said this week that the death toll now exceeds 100,000, making it this century’s third deadliest conflict for civilians.
The Obama administration has announced the suspension of Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) over the country’s failure to improve working conditions and protect worker rights. The decision is not surprising given the problems in Bangladesh, but, as I noted here in January, it is purely symbolic. First, GSP does not include clothing. Second, it accounts for a trivial $35 million of duty-free exports, or less than 1 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports to the United States, most of which (90 percent) is clothing. Meanwhile, most Bangladeshi exports face an average duty of 15 percent, one of the highest rates in the US market.