Tag Archives: world bank

Australian food trade barriers revealed

The World Bank’s World Trade Indi­ca­tors (WTI) are a rel­a­tive­ly new, but very pow­er­ful, way of describ­ing glob­al trade poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions. Their sim­pli­fied met­rics help to reveal the ‘big pic­ture’ that emerges from a bliz­zard of trade and tar­iff data col­lect­ed by the UN and WTO. Their method is the­o­ret­i­cal­ly sound but—as always—has lim­its and per­spec­tives that need some inter­pre­tive care.

The lat­est (2008) results show world trade bar­ri­ers con­tin­u­ing to fall rapid­ly through 2007

Over the last decade, coun­tries have improved many aspects of pol­i­cy rel­e­vant for trade. World­wide, Most Favored Nation (MFN) aver­age tar­iffs have fall­en from 14.1 per­cent dur­ing 1995–99 to 11.7 per­cent dur­ing 2000-04 and fur­ther to 9.4 per­cent in 2007—a decline of more than 33 per­cent. In addi­tion, a sub­stan­tial amount of trade is con­duct­ed at a zero MFN tar­iff rate (MFN-0) or through pref­er­en­tial trade agree­ments… The most recent esti­mates indi­cate that all regions and income groups have wit­nessed sub­stan­tial real growth in trade dur­ing this time. In 2007, aver­age real growth in trade, 7.7 per­cent for the world as a whole, is with­in the 7–9 per­cent growth range of the last decade.

But one result that sur­pris­es is the very high lev­el of revealed non-tar­iff pro­tec­tion of Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture.

An encouraging Growth Report

Commission On Growth

I have had a chance only to skim the Intro­duc­tion but I already like the Report from the Com­mis­sion on Growth and Devel­op­ment. Its under­stand­ing of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment tes­ti­fies to the authors’ deep expe­ri­ence. Exam­ine a devel­op­ing econ­o­my sink­ing into pover­ty and you will usu­al­ly find dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances (geog­ra­phy, demog­ra­phy, his­to­ry) but also, in every case, gov­ern­ment that is mediocre at best; often self-serv­ing and unac­count­able.

Suc­cess­ful cas­es share a fur­ther char­ac­ter­is­tic: an increas­ing­ly capa­ble, cred­i­ble, and com­mit­ted gov­ern­ment. Growth at such a quick pace, over such a long peri­od, requires strong polit­i­cal lead­er­ship. Pol­i­cy mak­ers have to choose a growth strat­e­gy, com­mu­ni­cate their goals to the pub­lic, and con­vince peo­ple that the future rewards are worth the effort, thrift, and eco­nom­ic upheaval. They will suc­ceed only if their promis­es are cred­i­ble and inclu­sive…