A group of international organisations has launched the Transparency in Trade Initiative (TNT), a global programme aimed at giving more access to influential trade data.

The TNT Initiative is a joint project, from the African Development Bank, the International Trade Centre, UNCTAD and the World Bank, and in co-operation with the UN Statistics Division, that aims to eliminate the transparency gap resulting from the lack of access to data on country-specific trade policies.

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Once fully developed, the initiative will give free and easy access to information on trade policy instruments, such as tariffs, non-tariff measures and services regulations. In addition, it will generate new and more accurate data on non-tariff measures and policies affecting trade in services and investment. All data will be freely accessible on a web portal serving as a platform for users in both developed and developing countries.

"We need a revolution in open information for trade, to support open trade," said Robert B Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group. "This important initiative will make information on trade flows, tariffs and non-tariff barriers – including those policies that affect trade in services – publicly and freely available and easily accessible to all users."

Free access to data will make it easier for exporters and policy-makers to meet relevant standards and requirements, and therefore prevent rejection of their exports at destination. The data will also allow for better monitoring and analysis of trade-related projects.

Such analysis is essential to provide a basis for assessment of current projects and to inform the development of new initiatives. In addition, access to trade information will allow governments to identify policy constraints and prioritise areas for reform and trade negotiations.