Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum
The Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 is launched at a time of uncertainty for global trade. The year started with the signing of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, bright hopes for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, signs of progress in the WTO and a positive mood among leaders round the world. By November, anti-trade rhetoric in the US election, the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and stark divides among WTO members had brought progress on these fronts close to a halt. However, liberalization efforts did continue in other regions, via Asia’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area and other negotiations.
Amid the uncertainty, business and governments look for navigation markers—signs to show them which aspects of trade policy and practice are working well, and which aren’t. Providing this visibility is the purpose of the Global Enabling Trade Report. The clarity created is vital for citizens to engage in informed trade debates, helping them to understand which aspects of a complex debate are important to their lives, and helping them to hold governments to account.
From its beginnings in 2007, the Global Enabling Trade Report has highlighted the particular importance of trade facilitation in delivering concrete reforms to producers and consumers around the world, most notably in developing countries. With the creation of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, co-producer of this year’s edition, the Report has thrown itself wholeheartedly behind the cause of trade facilitation, providing additional focus to implementation work around the globe.
With almost 100 countries having completed ratification, the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement is close to coming into force. Delivery will require deep public-private cooperation and dialogue focused on practical steps to overcome trade barriers. The decisions and actions needed for successful, sustainable trade facilitation are far from straightforward, demanding collaboration among stakeholders as well as coalitions of government departments, outsourced providers, infrastructure investors and digital expertise. The Global Enabling Trade Report provides the context to support joint decision-making among competing priorities.
The Global Enabling Trade Report is supported by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on International Trade and Investment community. We are grateful to the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States; founding government members of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation; the International Chamber of Commerce and the Center for International Private Enterprise, co-hosts with the Forum of the Alliance Secretariat; Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, implementing partner of the Alliance; AP Moller Maersk, Agility, Brambles, Cisco, DHL Express, Diageo, FedEx, FiatChrysler, Indani Global, UPS and WalMart, initial business partners of the Alliance; and all of the Partners of the World Economic Forum engaged in our Trade and Investment Initiative. We also thank our Data Partners for making data available: the Global Express Association, the International Air Transport Association, the International Trade Centre, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank, the World Customs Organization and the World Trade Organization. Appreciation goes also to the Report’s authors, Attilio Di Battista, Sean Doherty, Thierry Geiger, and Ilmari Soininen, as well as to all the contributors. Finally, this Report would not have been possible without the support of our network of over 160 Partner Institutes worldwide that carry out the Executive Opinion Survey in 39 languages, and the nearly 15,000 business executives in 141 economies who provided responses.