In Lusaka: Jumbe Ngoma +260-211-252811
In Washington: Alejandra Viveros +1 (202) 473-4306
Lusaka, April 7, 2009 — The World Bank Group today launched a US$40 million multi-donor trust fund to help countries improve their competitiveness and reduce trading costs through measures such as improving infrastructure, transport logistics and customs procedures.
“International trade is key for poverty reduction, economic growth and employment, but the financial crisis is making transaction costs more expensive,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for Africa, during the North South Corridor Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. “The Trade Facilitation Facility will help poor countries reduce their trading costs and increase their competitiveness –both necessary ingredients for an economic recovery.”
Due to the global recession, volumes of trade in goods and services are expected to drop 6.1 percent in 2009, with a significantly sharper contraction in trade volumes of manufacturing products, according to World Bank data.
The Trade Facilitation Facility (TFF) will support the following activities in low income countries:
· Implementation of practical initiatives in key areas such as border management improvement, institutional development, trade procedures, logistics services and gateway infrastructure;
· Development of trade corridors and other regional facilitation activities around the world;
· Mobilization of resources from development banks and donors;
· Implementation of trade facilitation provisions of international trade agreements, including a possible future Trade Facilitation Agreement within the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“We see trade as the key driver of economic growth,” said Danny M. Leipziger, World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management and Vice-Chair of the independent Commission for Growth and Development. “Facilitating trade is a smart development intervention for poor countries and we are pleased to step up our efforts.”
The World Bank Group is pleased to be working closely with a number of donors, including the UK government, which intends to commit at least 10 million pounds to support the Trade Facilitation Facility.
Gareth Thomas, the UK’s Trade and Development Minister, said: “We must do more to ensure that all nations, especially African ones, can trade freely and competitively in the global market. The World Bank’s Facility, by making it easier and quicker to transport goods between countries, will help to do just that.”
The TFF, with US$40 million in funding over the next four years, will complement ongoing World Bank Group (WBG) support for trade-led economic growth. World Bank trade lending amounted to US$1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 (July 2007 – June 2008), in support to trade-related infrastructure, regional integration, export development and competitiveness and trade facilitation. Lending commitments for FY09 are expected to total US$3.6 billion.
In order to respond to the financial crisis, the WBG is expanding its trade support by:
- Increasing Trade facilitation services, including the TTF for low income countries;
· Doubling IFC's existing Global Trade Finance Program, to US$3 billion over a three-year period.
· The creation of IFC's Global Trade Liquidity Program, which has targeted initial commitments of US$5 billion from public sector sources and will support up to $50 billion of trade. The program has commitments of $1 billion from IFC; a pledge of up to £300 million ($440 million) from the UK; $200 million committed from the Canadian government; and $50 million committed from the Dutch government.
For more information on trade activities, please visit www.worldbank.org/trade