January 2013, London
Pascal Lamy was busy this month. From Davos, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation went to Bangladesh, where he visited the busy Chittagong port and gave a speech at the Chamber of Commerce on 1 February. On both occasions, he reiterated the importance of removing barriers to trade and establishing a multilateral trade facilitation agreement, which could save up to $1 trillion for the global economy. Apparently, nowadays border crossing cost 10% of the value of trade and average customs transaction involves 20–30 different parties, 40 documents, and 200 data elements, a third of which must be repeated several times. The World Economic Forum estimates that by reducing these barriers — many of them regulatory in nature — global GDP would increase by 4.7%, by contrast to only 0.7% gain if the focus was just on removing tariffs.