Author:Uri Dadush
Profession:Director International Trade Department

In recent years, policymakers have become increasingly aware of the importance of policies that can facilitate the flow of goods and services across borders. Sound trade facilitation policies are indeed essential if countries are to realize the potential gains available from enhanced market access, lowered tariffs, reduced transportation costs, and improved communications. Such gains can allow countries to achieve higher growth rates and reduce poverty.

Customs administrations are a critical component of this framework and are therefore important catalysts of economic development. Well-designed programs that focus on improving the efficiency of customs administrations can generate significant gains by helping to integrate developing countries into the global trading system. In this context, many countries have undertaken customs reform and modernization initiatives, often with the assistance of the World Bank or other development agencies.

The outcomes of those programs have been mixed because, unfortunately, many programs have failed to meet their objectives. To help...

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