Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Making Trade Preferences Work for the Poorest Countries

Kimberly Ann Elliott

April 2010

Center for Global Development


Trade preference programs can reduce poverty and promote prosperity and stability in the world's poorest countries, but they often fall short of their intended goals. They regularly exclude commodities that poor countries can produce competitively, such as agricultural products and clothing, and many programs must be frequently renewed, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment. Extending comprehensive, usable, and predictable quota-free market access to all least developed countries could provide a critical boost to the world's poorest people with only trivial effects on preference-giving countries. G-20 leaders should embrace trade preference reform this year to promote growth and stability in the world’s poorest countries.