Until recently, it was difficult to obtain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of where exactly a country stood in relation to a vast number of multilateral treaties relating to trade. This is because it was not clear which instruments specific countries had ratified, which treaties they should ratify and which ones could be ignored altogether.

Most developed economies show a high rate of ratification – between 40% and 60 %. However, more than half of the world’s countries – in particular developing and least developed economies – still have inadequate and disappointingly low ratification rates ranging from 2% to 30%. In several countries, the low rate of ratification complicates business; local companies and potential foreign investors are faced with an uncertain or hampered legal framework for the purpose of international trade; as a result, the overall national trade environment is impaired and transaction costs are higher.

In addition, governments and national trade institutions are often unaware of the organisations in which they should be represented in order to participate in the process of negotiation and adoption of international trade rules.

Through its Technical Assistance programme, LegaCarta provides an effective solution to those developing countries with particularly low ratification rates. By carrying out an in-depth analysis of the individual country’s business environment, it is possible to determine the instruments which, through ratification, will most effectively strengthen and stabilise a country’s legal framework through the facilitation of the forms of trade in which the country participates.

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