The Commonwealth can take a leadership role in shifting the nature and tone of the Aid for Trade and Trading out of Poverty discourse
“Trade has been a major contributor to economic growth and poverty reduction, but more can be done to make it even more inclusive.” Ms Lisa McAuley CEO of the Global Trade Professionals Alliance (“GTPA”).
“I was delighted to participate on the recent All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade Out of Poverty with ODI (APPG-TOP with ODI), led by Lord Purvis of the UK and Minister Enelamah of Nigeria and supported by the APPG-TOP Secretariat as well as the group of experts representing various Commonwealth countries.”
At the opening of the first day of the Commonwealth Business Forum, the UK government announced some important initiatives, several of which the All Party Parliamentary Group had advocated. These included making trade more inclusive for women, young people and SMEs and reducing the costs and risks of trade and investment.
“As a member of the enquiry, and as the CEO of the GTPA, I fully support the UK Government’s announcement and congratulate it and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment of £7 million towards the She Trades Initiative. This will allow Commonwealth wide support to boost businesses owned by women in countries where being female is a professional barrier.
“We need to collectively do more to support and drive greater engagement by women as business leaders and encourage their participation in global markets and we also need to do more to promote the opportunities for young women to develop career paths in global trade. Certain areas of trade support services, for example trade finance, logistics, supply chain management, customs and freight forwarding, have traditionally seen low levels of participation by women; this needs to change.” said Lisa McAuley
Additionally, the GTPA fully endorses the support given by the UK government towards assisting Commonwealth Countries to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and funding for a new Commonwealth Standards Network to establish a common language for goods and services to help boost trade.
“Now that the UK government has committed funding to support Commonwealth countries it is important that Commonwealth members establish a working group for Commonwealth National Trade Facilitation Committee Chairs to help support each Commonwealth WTO member establish a functioning national level body, as required by the WTO TFA, and facilitate co-operation between them. Representatives from industry, international organisations and the Global Alliance on Trade Facilitation should also be invited to participate in the working group.”- Ms McAuley said.
Australia is also showing innovation in this field, through two key initiatives in supporting Aid for Trade initiatives that support Commonwealth countries, including a three-year programme to for women entrepreneurs from across Asia and the Pacific to empower women economically. The course is designed to assist women small business owners to develop the capabilities needed to expand their businesses to new international markets, as well as connect with other women entrepreneurs in Australia.
Under a separate Australian Government programme GTPA will be working with developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to build the internal capacity of export associations or chambers of commerce to deliver improved services and support to SMEs in their markets. The following Commonwealth countries will benefit from the initiative: Samoa, Vanuatu, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.