Shipping containers sit stacked at the Port 2000 terminal in the Port of Le Havre, France March 14, 2017.

Publication Type

WTO 2025: Enhancing global trade intelligence

Working Papers 22-6
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier


International trade flows based on information. Is the foreign market open? What are the conditions for entry? Are there customs duties to be paid and other regulations that need to be satisfied? Businesses thrive on getting as much certainty as they can find, and this requires reliable information. Is the competition subsidized? Are the competitors favored state-owned companies? During the pandemic, governments needed to know if food and medical supplies were going to be available from foreign sources and, most importantly, how available vaccines would be as most of the world’s countries could not produce any. Effective public policy cannot be made in the dark. The World Trade Organization, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade before it, were founded with the idea of providing transparency. But more is needed to understand why trade is taking place, and even more important, when it is not, why not?

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