Law and Development Case Studies 

Legal and regulatory systems can be difficult to navigate, with many interconnected steps and institutions that do not function consistently in practice. In addition, policymakers are often faced with difficult regulatory trade offs.


NML has created a legal and regulatory toolkit that improves the design and implementation of economic rules, NML has customized the toolkit for agriculture, law, financial services, digital commerce, and women entrepreneurs.


You can explore examples of our Legal Tools below, or read more on our publications and projects pages.


Tanzania Seed Potatoes

(Mtanga Farms)


Mtanga Farms was a partnership conducted under TransFarm Africa that showed that understanding and addressing legal and regulatory issues along a value chain could open up new markets and industries (seed potato production, in this case). The New Markets Lab was launched in 2012 to scale up the proof of concept and extend inclusive, development-focused legal and regulatory mapping and action to others, with a view to spreading benefits to multiple entrepreneurs and value chains.


AGOA Administration


The New Markets Lab partnered with Sasa Designs by the Deaf in Kenya to understand the experience of a small producer trading under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and simplify administrative procedures to increase trade under the program. As a result of this collaboration and NML’s partnership with ISLP, administrative issues have been identified that could impact a number of small producers. NML and ISLP are working together to identify and address these challenges and help ensure that the benefits of trade preference programs reach their intended beneficiaries. 


Lesotho Asparagus Value Chain

(Kingdom Asparagus)


The New Markets Lab partnered with New Caledon on the Kingdom Asparagus Project to conduct a legal and regulatory assessment on issues around asparagus production and trade in Lesotho. With the support of the International Senior Lawyers Project and the Law and International Development Society at Harvard Law School, NML is coordinating legal research to highlight challenges along the value chain, particularly those related to trading fresh produce regionally and internationally. 

Rwanda Horticulture Project (FAIM)


NML partnered with FAIM, Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management, an established and growing tissue culture farm in Rwanda, to better understand the legal and regulatory challenges involved with distributing seed and plants to smaller farmer, including through cooperative financing and other financial services options. 


Legal and Regulatory Guides

Global Guide to the Digital Economy 


In 2018 NML partnered with the Center for International Private Enterprise to develop a best practices legal guide on the regulatory framework surrounding digital trade and e-commerce, which was published in fall of 2018. This guide covers key policy areas that private sector organizations should examine when they are working to spur e-commerce growth in their countries, with a focus on how to increase the participation of SMEs in online market places across sectors.

Services Legal Guides  


In 2016, NML completed a series of regulatory guides in partnership with the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development focused on key services sectors in developing markets, namely financial services, information communication technology (ICT), tourism, and transport. These regulatory guides were meant to serve as practical tools that highlighted key regulatory intervention points and tradeoffs that should be considered to best leverage sustainable market growth and economic and social development. More broadly, these guides help support developing countries by offering recommendations and roadmaps for different regulatory and legal reforms. 

Fertilizer Legal Guides

With the support of AGRA Scaling Seeds and Technology Partnership (SSTP) through USAID, in 2016 NML began a partnership with AFAP develop country-specific legal and regulatory guides on the fertilizer industry in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique.  These were designed to highlight challenges to accessing new market opportunities, identify key legal and regulatory intervention points to overcome issues in the enabling environment, and share international and regional best practices. NML also worked with AFAP to design Regional Regulatory Reform Guidelines that seek to advance regional harmonization of fertilizer laws and regulations, focused particularly on COMESA but applicable to other regional trade efforts as well.

East Africa Legal Guide 

NML led creation of a Legal Guide for Doing Business in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda), in collaboration with the Acumen Fund, Open Capital Advisors, Grassroots Business Fund, and Root Capital, which introduces social entrepreneurs to the legal and regulatory environment for doing business in the region. The Guide covers national rules as well as regional harmonization measures pertaining to a number of commercial activities including business registration, land tenure, and agricultural market regulation.

Test Cases 

NML has been "stress testing" the findings from our legal and regulatory guides and case studies in Test Cases conducted under the Seeds2B program, with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA).  Working as project partners in close collaboration with seed companies and breeding institutions over the last two years, NML and SFSA have been able to collect both qualitative and quantitative data on the implementation of the harmonized seed regulatory systems within four Regional Economic Communities throughout Africa (the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS)).  The Test Case results demonstrate the tangible impacts of legal and regulatory reform efforts, especially within regional trading systems.  This information also supports the development of more targeted recommendations for reforms. 

Regulatory Systems Maps

Regulatory Systems Maps synthesize a set of laws, regulations, and practical information in order to map the flow of a particular regulatory process from start to finish.  Regulatory Systems Maps visually depict national fertilizer regulatory processes and comparatively maps these regulations across countries.  Used alone, the maps are a useful way to demonstrate the true complexities of administrative processes, especially in complex sectors where the rules regulating a particular action or activity may be housed in multiple separate legal instruments.  Taken together, the maps allow qualitative comparisons across legal systems.  The language used in laws and regulations rarely tracks exactly evenly between systems.   The visual depictions are better suited for comparing the different possible routes to achieve similar goals, and therefore lead to more creative and efficient solutions to legal challenges.  Regulatory Systems Maps appear in all NML's legal guides and assessments, and NML is currently working on expanding the reach and impact of these maps by digitizing them to make them even more interactive. 

© 2019 by New Markets Lab.

All rights reserved.

200 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Suite 700

Washington, D.C. 20001

  • Facebook Clean
  • Twitter Clean
  • LinkedIn Clean