Trade is an engine of growth that creates jobs, reduces poverty and increases economic opportunity. Over one billion people have moved out of poverty because of economic growth underpinned by open trade since 1990. On the global stage, the WBG supports an open, rules-based, predictable, international trading system.
Open trade brings important, often overlooked benefits to lower-income households by offering consumers more affordable goods and services. For the extreme poor, trade can help reduce the prices of food. For women, trade can create jobs and increase incentives for girls to stay in school.
Developing countries often struggle with indirect factors that hinder their access to global markets, such as anti-competitive business practices, regulatory environments that are unfavorable to business growth and investment, or limited infrastructure capacity. Even a country with liberal and transparent trade policy suffers if its markets are not connected, and many of the “bottom billion” live in places that are landlocked, remote, or otherwise ill-served by international trade links. The World Bank Group helps its client countries improve their access to developed country markets and enhance their participation in the world economy by overcoming these obstacles.
Despite the benefits trade can bring to economies, not everyone is experiencing the benefits of globalization. Research shows that trade has resulted in job losses in certain regions and industries. We are working to advance policies that help all countries benefit from the opportunities that come with trade and technological change. These include short-term responses such as training programs and job search assistance, but also long-term solutions that build more resilient economies. Strong safety nets, access to education that prepares students for the jobs of the future, and policies that help workers become more mobile are all critical to these solutions.
Overall, the world needs to strengthen the global trading system. The system of global trade rules that has nurtured unprecedented economic growth across multiple generations faces tensions. These tensions prevent us from looking at the unique untapped benefits further trade reform can bring to the global economy.
Last Updated 9/28/18