Doing Business recorded the time and cost associated with the logistical process of exporting and importing goods. Doing Business measured the time and cost (excluding tariffs) associated with three sets of proceduresdocumentary compliance, border compliance and domestic transportwithin the overall process of exporting or importing a shipment of goods. The most recent round of data collection for the project was completed in May 2019. See the methodology and video for more information.

Doing Business reforms

Facilitating International Trade

International trade is a cornerstone of economic development, as access to global markets is strongly correlated with economic growth.1 Although tariffs on exports and imports have fallen on average in recent decades, non-tariff measures have gained increasing prominence.2 Optimizing time and costs in the trade sector is strongly associated with trade growth, diversification and economic expansion.3 Accordingly, global trade policies have shifted their focus from tariffs to trade facilitation, including the elimination of trade-related transactions costs. Doing Business tracks global policies and reforms that facilitate trade by implementing cost-effective, time-efficient and transparent regulatory practices.

Twenty-six economies undertook reforms making it easier to trade across borders in 2018/19. Around 40% of the reforms captured by the trading across borders indicators were in low- and lower-middle-income economies. Overall, South Asia was the region with the highest share of economies implementing trade reforms in Doing Business 2020 .

Eighteen economies improved their electronic systems for filing, processing and exchanging trade information in 2018/19. Since June 2018, Nigeria upgraded and expanded its electronic data interchange system Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System 2 (NICIS2). The system now integrates additional agencies involved in trade processes, such as banks and the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control. Sharing of information between traders and government agencies improved, allowing for documents to be submitted and approved electronically. In combination with the launch of an e-payment system, the initiative helped reduce documentary compliance and border compliance times.

Inadequate infrastructure is one of the main burdens in international trade.4 Eight economies implemented reforms impacting border infrastructure in Doing Business 2020. Starting in May 2018, the government of Bahrain deployed new scanners at King Fahad Causeway and established differentiated lanes for border crossing depending on the exporters’ status. As a result, there is less congestion at the border, shortening the border compliance time for exports by 12 hours.

Trade reforms demonstrate the importance of cross-border cooperation in ensuring efficient customs clearance. On April 7, 2018, the Integrated Check Post (ICP) Birgunj, a joint customs and border checkpoint between India and Nepal, was inaugurated. It became fully operational in June 2018. Customs procedures now occur at ICP Birgunj instead of the Kathmandu customs offices. ICP Birgunj is also equipped with the customs electronic data interchange system ASYCUDA World, has modern border infrastructure and more customs officials. Lastly and in part thanks to more advanced technology, border authorities at the ICP Birgunj conduct fewer intrusive inspections on export shipments.


1 World Bank Group and WTO 2015.
2 Hoekman and Nicita 2011.
3 Arvis and others 2010.
4 Lanz and others 2016.


Reforms implemented in 2018/19 are available here.

= Doing Business reform making it easier to do business. = Change making it more difficult to do business.