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Trade Competitiveness and Diversification


About the Program

Competitiveness, through employment generation, is central to harnessing private sector growth for sustainable poverty reduction and, ultimately, wealth creation. Firms, especially small- and medium-sized ones, in all sectors serving export and domestic markets, cannot exploit opportunities if they are burdened by costs outside of their control that make them uncompetitive. Increasing the number and value of products produced, the number of markets served, and the survival rate of firms is conditional on lowering such costs.

Activities in this area center on the economy-wide incentive framework created by prevailing policies and regulations, including:

  • Restrictions on imports and foreign direct investment;
  • Trade in Services as a new means to access international best practices and expand exports;
  • The design and implementation of specific actions to address market and information failures.

The emphasis remains on the creation of enabling policy environments that are conducive to the emergence of successful firms in the production of goods and services for both export and domestic markets.

For questions on trade competitiveness, please contact: Jose Guilherme Reis


Trade Competitiveness Diagnostics: A Family of Toolkits


The International Trade Unit seeks to help countries understand their position, performance, and capabilities in export markets, and the factors that determine (and constrain) competitiveness in traded sectors.



Trade Competitiveness Diagnostic Toolkit

  • by Jose Guilherme Reis and Thomas Farole, March 2012
    Purchase | Free Download | Book Widget 

    In recent years, the agenda to support trade growth has moved beyond trade policy to embrace a wider set of "behind the border" issues focused on establishing an environment conducive to the emergence of firms that are competitive in both export and domestic markets. In this context, the World Bank's Trade Competitiveness Diagnostic Toolkit (TCD) facilitates a systematic assessment of a country's position, performance, and capabilities in export markets. It combines quantitative analysis with qualitative techniques, including in-country interviews with key stakeholders across trade value chains. The TCD toolkit will be of particular interest to economists at development banks and donor agencies, government practitioners involved in analyzing trade performance, and academics and researchers in the area of trade and development economics.


  • Making FDI Work for Sub-Saharan AfricaMaking FDI Work for Sub-Saharan Africa: Local Spillovers and Competitiveness in Global Value Chains
    Edited by Thomas Farole and Deborah Winkler, January 2014
    Free Download | Book Widget

  • Internal Geography of TradeThe Internal Geography of Trade: Lagging Regions and Global Markets
    Edited by Thomas Farole, April 2013
    Free Download | Book Widget

  • Gender and GVCsGlobal Value Chains, Economic Upgrading and Gender
    Edited by Cornelia Staritz and Jose Guilherme Reis, January 2013
    Free Download

  • Pathways to African Export SustainabilityPathways to African Export Sustainability
    By Paul Brenton, Olivier Cadot and Martha Denisse Pierola, June 2012
    Free Download | Book Widget

  • Does What You Export Matter?Does What You Export Matter? In Search of Empirical Evidence for Industrial Policies
    By Daniel Lederman and William F. Maloney, June 2012
    Free Download | Book Widget

  • Special Economic Zones: Progress, Emerging Challenges, and Future Directions Special Economic Zones: Progress, Emerging Challenges, and Future Directions
    Edited by Thomas Farole and Gokhan Akinci, August 2011
    Free Download | Book Widget


Innocent bystanders: how foreign uncertainty shocks harm exporters
Daria Taglioni and Veronika Zavacka | October 1, 2012

Gravity chains: Estimating bilateral trade flows when parts and components trade is important
Richard Baldwin and Daria Taglioni | June 10, 2012

Blog Posts


National Competitiveness, Scalability of International Value Chains and Location of Production
Hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics | April 16-17, 2013

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