Foreign Trade, FDI, and Capital Flows Study

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  • Publication
    Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks in South Asia: An Assessment of Their Regulatory Structures
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-11-10) Galal, Rami
    This paper reviews the policies and regulations for special economic zones and other spatial development modalities in the countries within proximity of the Eastern Corridor in South Asia, and it assesses whether those policies and regulations are effectively designed. The assessment finds mixed results. On the positive side, governments in these countries exhibit a strong political commitment to the zones’ success, providing them with dedicated policies of both fiscal incentives and regulatory concessions, combined with administrative simplification to help zone developers and tenant enterprises. However, these arrangements include some notable shortfalls. For example, some incentives are inconsistent with the zone objectives, violate some international regulations, or miss necessary business facilitation measures. Moreover, there is no mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of different incentives. Zone tenancy requirements are not always well specified, feasible, or consistent with zone objectives. As for the regulatory and institutional structures of zone programs, there are some common shortfalls, especially in terms of (a) clarity of zone objectives, (b) the roles of different agents, (c) the autonomy and inclusivity of those agents, and (d) the agents’ authority to carry out their responsibilities, and there are some shortfalls in the resources that agents need to manage operations effectively. To maximize the benefits from these zones, governments of the region could adopt reforms to ensure that incentives and tenancy requirements are aligned with zone objectives and that regulatory frameworks are clear, fair, and effective.
  • Publication
    CEMAC: Deepening Regional Integration to Advance Growth and Prosperity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-06-29) World Bank
    The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), which consists of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, is one of the oldest regional groupings in Africa. The main objectives for achieving this are: (i) the creation of a fully functional and effective customs union, (ii) the establishment of a robust system of macroeconomic surveillance, and (iii) the harmonization of sectoral policies and legal frameworks that will create a common market for goods, capital, and services.Despite this ambitious vision, regional integration in the CEMAC zone remains shallow.The oil price shock of 2014-15 severely affected the six CEMAC economies and promoted re-commitment to deepening regional integration.At the regional level, the PREF also aims to: (i) improve the coordination of public financial management (PFM) and fiscal policy; (ii) accelerate regional integration through improvements to the regional economic plan; (iii) improve the business climate; (iv) increase economic diversification; (v) enhance monetary policy transmission mechanisms; and (vi) improve prudential banking supervision.CEMAC is right to focus on reforms to deepening regional integration as a driver of growth.The objective of this Regional Study on CEMAC is to support policy makers in CEMAC in efforts to strengthen regional integration to support economic growth and to reduce the need for economic adjustment. The Regional Study focuses mainly on what can be done at the regional level to support regional integration, macro-stability and long-term growth in the CEMAC area; as such, the Regional Study aims to complement country-specific policies and initiatives to support macro-stabilization, economic development and integration.
  • Publication
    Niger: Leveraging Export Diversification to Foster Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-12-09) World Bank
    Niger’s Vision 2035 acknowledges the country has little choice but to create ‘a competitive anddiversified economy.’ Economic diversification is a cornerstone component of the Economic Orientation Document (EOD) 2016-19 and the PDES 2017-21. The EOD defines Niger’s economic diversification as moving exports away from natural resources and increasing the value-added component of exports as the foundation for its agro-based industrialization and employment creation policies. Hence, an exports diversification strategy is akin to the country’s economic diversification and, not surprisingly, the PDES contains several axes of policy interventions supporting it. However, Niger faces serious structural challenges to diversify into new productive activities. The country is landlocked, exporting costs are high and, given multiple infrastructure and logistics gaps, access to markets is difficult beyond neighboring regional markets. Rapid population growth and low human capital turns into a low skilled population. Volatile economic growth, reliant on a few commodity exports that closely follow the vagaries of weather and boom and busts of international prices, makes hardly obtained poverty gains vulnerable.
  • Publication
    Mobilizing the Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Economic Integration and Entrepreneurship
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-12) Malouche, Mariem Mezghenni; Salsac, Fanny
    This paper advocates for the need to rally the MENA professional and skilled diaspora. It discusses the findings of a unique outreach exercise to the MENA diaspora and provides policy recommendations. First, the paper highlights the linkages between the diaspora and trade, investment, and knowledge transfer based on the literature and concrete examples. Second, it describes the outreach and the profile of the diaspora members surveyed. Third, it presents the main findings of the survey of the MENA diaspora in four areas: (i) overall engagement, (ii) appetite for investment, (iii) trade, and (iv) the role of institutions. The paper concludes with policy recommendations.
  • Publication
    Moldova Trade Study: Note 4. The Performance of Free Economic Zones in Moldova
    (Washington, DC, 2016-03-03) World Bank
    In 1995, Moldova introduced free economic zone (FEZ) legislation with the aim of accelerating socioeconomic development by attracting domestic and foreign investment, promoting exports, and creating employment. Since then, seven free economic zones offering tax and customs benefits have been established. This note assesses the static and dynamic economic benefits of the program in Moldova. The free economic zones have been successful in attracting investment from both domestic and foreign sources. The economic zones have become true export platforms, generating a five-fold increase in exported industrial production from the zones between 2004 and 2014. On average, employment in the economic zones had a robust growth in the last seven years and almost doubled since 2008. Evidence suggests that the economic zones have significantly contributed to the diversification of exports and to the changing structure of the Moldovan economy. The effect of the economic zones on domestic firms appears to be modest, however, and unlikely to contribute to the technological upgrading and sophistication of the Moldovan economy. Free economic zones tend to attract industrial activities requiring intensive use of human resources for certain operations. The economic impact of Moldovan free economic zones is ambiguous. Moldovan legislation provides sound and transparent provisions, but the main issue is how this legislation is implemented. The majority of recommendations are focused on streamlining the implementation process, making it easier for companies to operate. Here are the main recommendations for improving the zones : (i) the importance of fiscal incentives should be downgraded by shifting to targeted services for businesses; (ii) reduce corruption and increase accountability by establishing one-stop-shop procedures and elements; (iii) establish a proper mechanism for monitoring and reporting with the zones residents and administrator; (iv) empower the regulator with additional relevant institutional capacities and capabilities; (v) the role of residents in appointing the administrator should be determinant; and (vi) establish a proper mechanism for compensating residents of the zones for restrictive treatment of the real assets.
  • Publication
    Uruguay: Trade Competitiveness Diagnostic
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Portugal, Alberto; Reyes, Jose-Daniel; Varela, Gonzalo
    As a small economy, Uruguay’s growth and poverty reduction prospects are closely related to its performance in international markets. This report analyzes export dynamics in Uruguay over the period 2000-2013, benchmarking them against relevant comparator countries. It looks at export outcomes through four different dimensions of export performance: (1) the evolution, composition, and growth orientation of the country’s export basket; (2) the degree of diversification across products and markets; (3) the level of sophistication and quality; and (4) the survival rate of export relationships. The report offers a number of hypotheses for an in-depth competitiveness diagnostic of Uruguay’s external sector, as well as policy recommendations to increase integration and to gain from it. In addition to the real depreciation of the peso that followed the crisis, the international prices of Uruguay’s main export products soared. This stimulated investment in technological improvements in the production of these natural-resource-intensive products. Section one analyzes the macroeconomic environment in which exporters operate in Uruguay during the period of analysis. Section two looks at level, growth, composition, and market share performance of Uruguay’s exports, as well as the country’s main trading destinations. Section three focuses on the diversification of products and markets, considering several measures of concentration, including the share of top five products and markets in exports, and the Hirschman-Herfindahl index for Uruguay’s export portfolio. Sections four and five address quality and sophistication and survival, respectively.
  • Publication
    Republic of Sudan Diagnostic Trade Integration Study Update: Reducing Trade Costs to Increase Competitiveness and Rresilience
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-10-31) World Bank Group
    The Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) update identifies priority actions in support of the Government of Sudan (GOS) commitment to increase trade and diversify the economy. The current study builds on the earlier 2008 DTIS by identifying the major factors holding back the increase of agricultural exports and economic diversification. The report identifies a package of measures that will support Sudan to more effectively realize its economic potential. The DTIS Update presents an updated action matrix that summarizes the recommended policy reforms. This matrix was validated with a wide variety of stakeholders in Khartoum in September 2014. Together, the action points will contribute to reducing trade costs, thereby enabling Sudanese enterprises and farmers to compete more successfully in regional and global markets and realize the GOS objectives of expanding and diversifying exports for increased economic growth. The recommendations accept that any changes in tariff schedules should be ‘revenue neutral,’ given the existing challenging fiscal situation.
  • Publication
    Costa Rica : Five Years after CAFTA-DR, Assessing Early Results for the Costa Rican Economy
    (Washington, DC, 2014-06-13) World Bank
    The Dominican Republic - Central America - United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) has been fundamental in creating a stable framework for Costa Rica's trade with the United States. For Costa Rica, CAFTA-DR is more than a trade agreement. Besides eliminating tariffs and reducing non-tariff barriers between member countries, CAFTA-DR also introduced major changes to the legal framework of member countries, reducing barriers to services, promoting transparency, and ensuring a secure and predictable environment for investors. This report analyses how CAFTA-DR has impacted the Costa Rican economy in the five years after ratification, both on a macro level and in key specific sectors. The report shows that CAFTA-DR is yielding benefits to the Costa Rican economy, but it is too early to provide a complete account just after five years. The agreement has succeeded to further trade integration between Costa Rica, the US, and other CAFTA-DR countries. Exports to the US began increasing several years before the agreement, but CAFTA-DR accelerated the trend. Costa Rica continues attracting FDI above levels observed in other CAFTA-DR countries, with an increasing share from US investors and a focus on medical devices and business services. Online survey and interviews of high-tech firms in free trade zones found that CAFTA-DR was an important factor in the investment decisions. CAFTA-DR ignited an explosion of changes in the telecom and insurance sectors, bringing new regulatory frameworks, competition, product innovations, and price reductions. Consumers are reaping the benefits of improved telecom and insurance services. But some issues remain for those markets to mature. Finally, the concern regarding the potential negative impact on the Costa Rican Social Security Administration's finances due to the intellectual property rights measures have not been observed.
  • Publication
    Afghanistan Diagnostics Trade Integration Study
    (Washington, DC, 2012-11) World Bank
    Trade enables countries to import ideas and technologies, realize comparative advantages and economies of scale, and foster competition and innovation, which in turn increases productivity and achieves higher sustainable employment and economic growth. Countries open to international trade tend to provide more opportunities to their people, and grow faster. Afghanistan could derive far more benefit from its international trade opportunities than it does at present. This Diagnostics Trade Integration Study (DTIS) report is intended to identify concrete policy actions in three areas of endeavor: lowering the transaction costs of trade, increasing Afghanistan's competitiveness in world markets, and providing an analytical foundation for Afghanistan's national trade strategy. The study examines how to do this, looking not only at trade performance and policy, but also at three sectors with great export potential: agriculture, gemstones and carpets, as well as the investment climate, customs as a driver of trade facilitation, and on promoting infrastructure services. All five chapters in this report provide a detailed and comprehensive analysis of trade issues intended to reduce the transaction costs of trade. Growth in Afghanistan has been strong and volatile because of its heavy reliance on agriculture. Now it faces a transition: prospects of a drawdown of international military forces and a decline in civilian aid by 2014. Security issues and political instability could undermine Afghanistan's Transition. Such threats could harm not only economic growth, but deterioration would repel private-sector investment.
  • Publication
    Reshaping Economic Geography of East Africa : From Regional to Global Integration, Volume 2. Technical Annexes
    (Washington, DC, 2012-06) World Bank
    Five East African countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda have made solid progress on integrating regionally in the East African Community (EAC) since 1999. Such advances are crucial, as integration in East Africa has the potential for higher than usual benefits: Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda are landlocked, with very high costs to their economies. Successful integration will transform the five countries into one coastal, regional economy, slashing such costs. Looking at the East African integration through the lens of economic geography helps to improve sequencing of the integration process and to develop new policies to complement ongoing efforts, maximizing their benefits. Reducing disparities in provision of social services will increase the chances of workers from the inland parts of the EAC to find jobs, especially as administrative obstacles to labor mobility are being removed under the Common Market Protocol. Implementing and deepening the current program of regional infrastructure improvements will ensure that consumers and producers throughout the region are better connected to each other and to global markets. Integration policies facilitating greater economic activity in the coastal areas will help the EAC take advantage of the global demand for manufactured goods and thus to promote employment. That will also generate substantial demand for services and agricultural goods produced inland, amplifying the benefits of the customs union.