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CGD’s research in this area focuses on how rich-country trade policies could be more supportive of poverty reduction and economic growth in developing economies. This work strives to rebuild a foundation for broad support of open trade policies in key developed and emerging markets.

Trade provides important opportunities for developing countries to attract investment, create jobs, and reduce poverty. Rich-country policies that are open to trade are critical in creating these development prospects. Unfortunately, support for open trade policies has eroded in recent years, particularly in the United States.

In addition, CGD’s education, outreach, and coalition-building activities strive to rebuild a foundation for broad support of open trade policies in key developed and emerging markets. Senior Fellow Kimberly Elliott leads this work.

Key areas of research include global trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization, especially on agriculture, the implications of proliferating regional trade agreements for developing countries, the role of labor standards in trade agreements and development, and the need for greater coherence between trade and aid policies, especially in the areas of trade facilitation and capacity-building.

CGD publications on trade include Elliott's Delivering on Doha: Farm Trade and the Poor and her essay “U.S. Trade Policy and Development” (access the brief or download the full chapter) in The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President.

Reforming Trade Preferences Initiative

One important way that rich countries affect the trade opportunities available to developing countries is through trade preference programs. While many rich countries provide special access for exports from the least-developed countries (LDCs), these trade preferences often do not extend to the products that matter most to LDCs, such as agriculture and clothing. Encouraging preference-giving countries to improve and expand their policies would significantly help developing countries. To effectively contribute to development, trade preferences need to be easy to use, permanent, coordinated with funding for capacity building, and available for products that developing countries commonly export.

To identify effective and feasible reforms, CGD launched theReforming Trade Preference Initiative and organized the Global Trade Preferences Working Group to devise practical policy recommendations for high-income and emerging-market countries to improve and coordinate their trade preference programs to better serve development objectives.