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    Trade Talks: Is Business on Board?

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2003

    Last October, Trade Forum magazine explored the topic of how business in developing countries can benefit from the Doha Development Agenda. The developmental dimension of this round gives business leaders a special opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with government to help shape trade rules - and build the foundation for cooperation with government that is essential to competitiveness, jobs and reducing

    poverty.

    In more than half the world, business interests aren't well integrated in national trade negotiating positions. This may lead to governments agreeing to trade rules under which their firms may not be able to conduct business. For developing and transition economies to take advantage of the Doha Development Agenda, they need their business sectors to speak out.

    It's not easy to analyze market access barriers, influence international standards or track the impact of multilateral negotiations on exporters in textiles and clothing, agricultural, leather, services and other industries. It's not possible without business and government working together.

    On the eve of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún, we again explore business involvement in WTO negotiations - a key area of trade development. The challenge for developing and transition economies is to find models of business advocacy that work for them. While these countries do have a culture of business advocacy on some economic policy issues, multilateral trade negotiations have not often been one of their strengths. Combined with last year's edition, the articles in this issue provide insights into why both business and government should invest in working together in this area, and how they can partner with ITC to make business advocacy a reality.

    Trade specialists are saying that business advocacy for trade is a "must" in all countries. Among the voices in this issue, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, head of WTO, sets out what is at stake for businesses in the developing world if they ignore the Doha Development Agenda. Eveline Herfkens, head of the UN's Millenium Development Goals Campaign, notes that citizens should hold their governments accountable on trade development pledges. J. Denis Bélisle, ITC's Executive Director, speaks out on bringing the dynamism of business to development issues, and invites trade development leaders in Cambodia, United Republic of Tanzania and the United States of America to provide their perspectives.

    You'll also find stories on market access (not as open as it looks); influencing standards (real cases facing exporters today); and the latest in trade talks on services (and where services associations should weigh in). We do a bit of crystal-ball gazing on textiles and clothing (what happens after 2005?) and provide new insights to help African suppliers of leather and leather products conduct business advocacy.

    Finally, as always, we'd appreciate your feedback. Do you share Trade Forum articles in professional associations, use them in business courses or reprint them for your own networks of SME exporters? Do the views we present help you to advocate export development more effectively? Please let us know. Our network of trade development institutions that use the magazine is growing, and we plan to highlight your uses of Trade Forum in our next issue.