Expanding trade flows can be part of the solutions to global challenges, when accompanied by the right policies. World Bank President David Malpass and WTO Director General Ngozi Onkonjo-Iweala discussed how global trade has limited the extend of the current global recession and laid out the practical steps countries could take to spread the benefits of trade more widely. Trade costs, on average, are equal to a 114 percent tariff on imported goods in developing countries. Much of that burden on consumers is the result of inefficient border procedures and poor transportation infrastructure. Trade facilitation reforms and investment in infrastructure could give a big boost to trade within regions. Betty Maina, Kenya’s Minister of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, spoke of how trade liberalization is a central part of her country’s aspirations for incomes and development.
“Trade can be a powerful catalyst for growth and social economic development and poverty reduction, particularly if we implement it with the poor in mind,” Maina said.
Leaders from the public and private sectors discussed the importance of investments in logistics and expanding trade finance that could strengthen the contribution of trade to economic recovery, and noted the ways that trade could help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.