International Competitive Bidding (ICB)

What Is International Competitive Bidding (ICB)?

International competitive bidding (ICB) is a bidding and procurement process the World Bank requires of any borrower that obtains goods, work and non-consulting services with financing provided by the World Bank.

Key Takeaways

  • International competitive bidding (ICB) refers to a bidding and procurement process the World Bank requires of any borrower that accepts the financing it provides.
  • The detailed set of procedures is designed to ensure fair and healthy competition for World Bank-funded economic opportunities.
  • Borrowers are required to advertise for the goods and services they procure and must pick the lowest acceptable bid.
  • The World Bank provides financing for projects aimed at improving education, health, public administration, infrastructure, finance, agriculture and the environment in developing countries.

How International Competitive Bidding (ICB) Works

An international competitive bidding process is required of borrowers procuring services for World Bank-funded projects. The World Bank has detailed requirements and specific conditions that must be followed by borrowers in choosing a business partner.

The goal of imposing an international competitive bidding process for projects funded with loans issued by the World Bank is to promote fair and healthy competition for World Bank-funded economic opportunities. The borrowing country maintains a certain degree of freedom in selecting a winning bid for its projects, though is expected to choose the lowest-priced, most competitive bid.

What Is the World Bank?

The World Bank is an international financial institution headquartered in Washington, D.C. It serves as a lender for economic development projects focused on education, health, public administration, infrastructure development, finance, agriculture and environmental sustainability. The World Bank provides support in the form of low-interest loans, zero to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries.

Examples of World Bank-funded projects approved in 2022 include a program to help Zambia restore macroeconomic and long-term debt sustainability; a program in Guatemala to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and protect and enhance the lives of the poor and vulnerable; and a program to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Argentina. 

Special Considerations: ICB Requirements and Processes

The World Bank has detailed instructions, conditions, and requirements that must be followed in the international competitive bidding process for services involving World Bank-funded projects. ICB requires World Bank borrowers to internationally advertise the required services needed for each project in an acceptable language. Borrowers must award contracts to the lowest acceptable bids, subject to certain considerations for qualitative judgment.

Borrowers who receive World Bank funding must follow the bank's procurement framework for international competitive bidding. The framework covers policies, regulations, directives and procedures. The bank provides detailed guidance, templates and documents that must be used, as well as other important resource materials. Training is also provided. Additionally, the World Bank requires borrowers to create regular reports detailing their progress and activities.

Article Sources
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  1. World Bank. "Guidelines: Procurement of Goods, Works and Non-Consulting Services Under IBRD Loans and IDA Credits & Grants by World Bank Borrowers," Pages 2 and 11-13.

  2. World Bank. "Projects & Operations."

  3. World Bank. "Zambia Macroeconomic Stability, Growth and Competitiveness DPF."

  4. World Bank. "Second Crisis Response and Recovery in Guatemala Development Policy Loan."

  5. World Bank. "The World Bank promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in Argentina."

  6. World Bank. "New Procurement Framework and Regulations for Projects After July 1, 2016."