Legal and Regulatory Framework > World Bank Group (WB)

WTO accession and trade policy training

The World Bank Institute provides training for government officials in WTO accession countries to help them evaluate the economic implications of WTO membership and of the legal and regulatory reforms associated with implementing WTO commitments. In recent years these training programs have focused on countries completing the transition to a market economy: Central Asian countries, China, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

For example, in Vietnam the World Bank has partnered with a local institute to train over 1,100 parliamentarians, negotiators and researchers; in China, it has provided training for trade negotiators and provincial officials on agricultural trade policy and poverty, services, and the implications of regional FTAs.

The Bank provides assistance related to: trade policy reforms and regional or multilateral negotiating options, such as market access modeling tools (Russia, Morocco, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kenya), safeguards/antidumping (Andean countries, Morocco), services trade (Central American countries, Bangladesh), and other countries’ FTAs (Egypt, Thailand).

Assistance on preferential trade agreements

The Bank has also conducted comprehensive analyses of the regional preferential trade agreements (PTAs) that are reshaping the world trading system. It is providing technical assistance to countries negotiating PTAs in an effort to improve their design and help governments use them to promote domestic reforms.

Advisory work on trade regulations and procedures

The joint World Bank-IFC Foreign Investment Advisory Services (FIAS) unit provides technical assistance to developing countries to help them reduce the costs of international trade through streamlined trade regulations and procedures. The FIAS program provides advisory services to:

  • Simplify and harmonize procedures and documentation;
  • Implement electronic processing/automation and develop single window systems;
  • Introduce risk management in border inspections and clearance;
  • Build capacity to improve efficiency in customs and technical control agencies.

Technical assistance (TA) projects in Liberia, Colombia, and Rwanda have helped to reduce the time and cost to trade that is accounted by administrative and regulatory processes.

Lending to meet trade standards

The Bank provides lending to meet trade standards in agriculture and industry, particularly in Africa, East Asia and Europe-Central Asia. While the scale of this work is still relatively small, the Bank’s lending portfolio for standards is growing. The combined volume of lending for trade standards is currently around US$200 million, and the lending for agri-food standards has grown from less than US$50 million a decade ago to around US$150 million today.

Agri-food standards support

Product standards in developed countries on agricultural products may be more stringent than required to achieve the intended health benefits and safety outcomes while differing requirements between countries can result in substantial additional costs for producers and mean that foreign firms (particularly those in LDCs) may be effectively shut out of foreign markets. The World Bank is: (i) investigating the effects of national and international agricultural standards on trade, particularly as they impact exports from LDCs; (ii) helping policymakers – particularly those in developing countries – better understand the economic and practical consequences of adhering to international product standards; and (iii) informing policymaking, capacity building and technical assistance programs so as to promote trade in agricultural goods from the developing world. To assist in this endeavor a Standards Restrictiveness Database (SRD) is also being developed. The SRD compiles standards data from 27 importing countries into a comprehensive and workable database and includes monthly information on each imported agricultural product and the list of pesticides and quantities allowed in each case. These standards data were then matched to Harmonized System (HS) codes to be able to append the trade data. The activity is matching the data for 233 agricultural products, enabling the analysis of the impact on trade for more than 1000 pesticides. The development of this new database will allow for a better understanding of the economic and development impact of standards on trade in agricultural goods – particularly as it relates to exports from developing countries. It will also be available to draw upon for informing lending operations, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), and Bank instruments such as Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) and Country Economic Memorandum (CEM).