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  • ISSUE 4/2009


  • The private sector has an important role to play in the effective development and implementation of trade facilitation strategies beyond investment alone. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) in trade facilitation are valuable in identifying the needs of government and traders, improving transparency and information flows, and promoting viable and sustainable trade facilitation solutions. Current success stories prove that the focus needs to be on an integrated strategy that does not assume a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

    Designed to help businesses boost trade competitiveness- and to inspire entrepreneurship- these nine practical guides are targeted at small firms in developing countries and trade support institutions that work with them.

    On a cocoa farm in Ghana, two chief executives sit on a log talking about their respective business goals. One is the CEO of Cadbury, Todd Stitzer; the other is the UK Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, Harriet Lamb. They are reflecting on the stories of farmers like Benjamin Atiemo in Adjeikrom village, whose children have left the village to seek work in the capital, Accra. Mr Atiemo's children, like those of many other farmers, are turning their back on cocoa farming. Apart from being hot and tiring work, yields from ageing cocoa trees are declining and, although international trade prices have surged recently, prices to farmers have scarcely kept pace with rocketing local food and fuel prices.

    To prepare for accession to the European Union (EU) in 2007, the Romanian Government recognized the need to strengthen its export sector to cope with new and intense competition within the EU through the development of a National Export Strategy. The private sector contributed 50 per cent of the cost of export-promotion activities.

    In 2003, the Government of Cameroon adopted its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), setting out its macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programmes. Under the PRSP, the Government decided to focus on sustainable development of certain agricultural sectors including coffee, cocoa and cotton with a view to supporting economic growth in rural areas.

    When the Ugandan Government set out to develop its National Export Strategy in 2007, it actively sought to engage the private sector. With technical support from ITC and financial support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, a national task force was established to develop a pro-poor NES. The result was a strategy that mainstreamed export development into all aspects of national development and strengthened the economic role of women.

    Having followed ITC's process and methodology, Jamaica's public and private sectors are convinced that the key to successfully developing and implementing a National Export Strategy is finding the right partners.

    Over the last ten years, the Government of Ghana has shown a firm strategic commitment to attracting export-oriented investments, facilitating trade and enhancing Ghanaian competitiveness. Reforming the processes and procedures used by the nation's Customs, Excise and Preventative Service was a major contributor in working towards these goals. In recognizing the important role played by the private sector in driving economic growth for Ghana, the Government looked to a PPP to help build, own and operate the process of integrating and improving its customs operations.

    In Barbados, collaboration between the public and private sectors successfully secured better tourism trade conditions than that afforded by the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services.

    The fisheries and aquaculture sectors are significant contributors to the economy of Viet Nam. However, between 1976 and 1992, the Vietnamese fisheries sector experienced rapidly declining outputs due to adverse conditions such as low skills in aquatic management and exploitation, irregular and low-quality supply of raw materials to the processing industry, worn-down production facilities and limited knowledge of modern marketing principles.

    The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen highlighted the divide between developed and developing nations in finding a global solution to climate change. The signing of the Copenhagen Accord between the US, China, India, South Africa and Brazil will see US$ 30 billion in aid funding going to developing nations over the next three years towards the costs of fighting climate change.

    A group of developing countries has tentatively agreed on a deal to cut tariffs and other barriers to each other's exports in an attempt to boost South-South trade. Negotiators from 22 nations,  including Brazil, India, Indonesia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe, reached an outline agreement on a new round of concessions under the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries (GSTP), following meetings of the UNCTAD. The draft agreement was submitted to ministers from participating countries for discussion and approval at a meeting scheduled around the WTO's Ministerial Conference.

    International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2009 The European Union (EU) has ended one of the world's longest-running trade battles as it agreed to cut import tariffs on bananas grown in Latin America. The settlement, which is expected to be ratified in early 2010, ends a 16-year trade dispute over access to the EU's

    At the ITC's Joint Advisory Group (JAG) meeting in December, ITC's members have endorsed the organization's Consolidated Programme Document for 2010 and its Strategic Plan for the next four years.

    The world's largest food and beverage company, Nestlé, sources raw agricultural materials directly from nearly 160,000 producers and 600,000 farmers in more than 50 countries around the world. the company recognizes the importance of its direct relationships with agricultural suppliers and its corporate social responsibility strategy focuses on sustainable business practices in the areas of nutrition, water and rural development.

    In recent decades a broad range of non-state actors ranging from multinational firms to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become key players in development finance alongside more traditional players such as official aid agencies and multilateral institutions. More recently, they have been joined by a host of interested parties including social entrepreneurs, former politicians and celebrities, who have used their profile to raise awareness and leverage resources for international aid in developing countries.

    With enterprises ranging from drip-irrigation companies in India and Pakistan to a major manufacturer of malaria-preventing bed nets in Tanzania and women's hospitals and ambulance services in India, Acumen's US$ 40 million portfolio has created more than 22,000 jobs and had a positive impact on more than 30 million people in developing countries.

    The trend towards private philanthropic foundations has seen some of the world's most powerful past and present leaders lending business and political clout to public-private partnerships for international development.

    During 2009 the Trade Forum team has examined the financial crisis, Aid for Trade and the creative economy. It has been a year of unprecedented economic, social and environmental turmoil which has resulted in the poorest of the poor taking the brunt of the negative impact.With only five years to go, it will take the combined efforts of all economic actors in addressing the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) will become even more necessary.PPPs are not a new thing, but what has changed in recent years is the kind of partnerships being done, the issues being tackled and the level of innovation which collaborative projects are bringing to the development agenda.

    Through initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity and the Creative Cities Network, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has highlighted the importance of fostering public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a model for making cultural and creative industries the drivers of economic growth.

    Never before have the objectives of the international community and the business world been so aligned. Through the UN Global Compact, common goals, such as building markets, combating corruption, safeguarding the environment and ensuring social inclusion, have resulted in unprecedented partnerships and openness among business, government, civil society, labour and the United Nations. Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Georg Kell outlines the importance of the public and private sectors working together for a sustainable future.

    The private sector has never played a greater or more influential role in international economic development than it does today. While 20 years ago the public sector delivered the majority of foreign assistance, today we are faced with a very different reality. Individual remittances, civil society organizations and business developers play an instrumental and important role in how aid models function.

    The global financial crisis has transformed the outlook for infrastructure projects with private participation in developing countries. In the second half of 2009 developing economies are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, with the crisis easing and investment flows returning. But as was the case with the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it is clear that the downturn of 2008-2009 will leave a lasting impact on the outlook for private participation in infrastructure long after the crisis has receded.

    It might seem obvious that a multinational commercial organization wanting to make a contribution to social development can best do so by using its core competencies. For some organizations, like, say, construction or utilities companies, the potential contribution is clear. But in professional services organizations like KPMG, we have to be a little more creative in working out how best to use our skills.

    Aid for Trade can provide a significant stimulus to economic growth in developing countries but decisions on where to apply it should include the views of the private sector - for indeed it is the private sector that trades and it understands the areas of greater constraint. Public-private partnerships and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, which provide linkages between small and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations, can also contribute to economic growth and Aid for Trade can be a facilitator of this process.

    A strong united voice from the private sector is vital to promote the importance of trade in national development plans.In recent years, there has been much greater awareness of the need to engage the private sector directly in policy dialogue, particularly in trade negotiations related to enhanced market access. This has been further accelerated by the global financial crisis, which has put a spotlight on the economic importance of strong enterprises and their contribution to socioeconomic well-being.

    The first time Andrew Rugasira drove the 800 kilometres (500 miles) from Uganda's capital, Kampala, to the Rwenzori Mountains, he went to convince farmers why they should sell their coffee beans to him. Despite being offered more money than anyone else had before, the farmers were reluctant to do business with Mr Rugasira. Until then, most of the visitors who came to the remote agricultural area were from non-governmental organizations driving big cars, but Mr Rugasira was a businessman in a pickup truck.

    In the private sector, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes are no longer an optional luxury but are becoming an integral part of "good" corporate governance and strategy. There is also a growing recognition and acceptance that collaborative public-private partnerships (PPPs) can deliver mutually desired outcomes. But how to strike a good deal?

    There's no alternative to sustainable development. Even so, many companies are convinced that the more environment-friendly they become, the more the effort will erode their competitiveness. They believe it will add to costs and will not deliver immediate financial benefits.

    The 8th version of the TPO Network World Conference and Awards will be hosted by ProMexico in Mexico City, Mexico on 14-15 October 2010. The biennial conference will bring together global leaders of trade promotion organizations (TPOs) and other major trade support institutions (TSIs) to discuss their common concerns and recognize TPOs that excel in their export development practices.

    The Seventh Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference recently took place in Geneva. The general theme for discussion was "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment". Although the Doha round was officially off the agenda of the three-day meeting, it was hoped that members would use the occasion to indicate how they see engagement in the Doha negotiations post-December.