"This paper takes stock of recent privatization trends, examines the extent to which government ownership is still prevalent in developing countries, and summarizes emerging issues for state enterprise reform going forward. Between 1990 and 2003, 120 developing countries carried out nearly 8,000 privatization transactions and raised $410 billion in privatization revenues. Privatization activity peaked in 1997 and dropped off in the late 1990s and, while still at overall low levels, is slowly creeping back. While there are a large number of studies assessing the impact of privatization on enterprise performance and overall welfare, there are no systematic data on the extent to which privatization has changed the role of state enterprises in the economy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the state's role has been substantially reduced in Eastern and Central Europe and in certain countries in Latin America. But available evidence also suggests that, despite a long track record of privatization, government ownership in state enterprises is still widely prevalent in some regions and countries, and in certain sectors in virtually all regions. The paper shows that the costs of not reforming state enterprises are high and that continued efforts need to be made to improve their performance by improving privatization policies and institutions; adopting more of a case-by-case approach for complex sectors and countries; and exposing state enterprises to market discipline through new private entry and exit of unviable firms and improvements in their corporate governance. "--World Bank web site.