Trade, Policy and Effective International Engagement

11.12.2017 Alexander R. Malaket, CITP, CTFP, President
Trade, Policy and Effective International Engagement

Government and international institution bureaucrats don’t understand the realities of business.

Businesspeople and entrepreneurs don’t have the first clue about the nuances and intricacies of policy, trade negotiations and geopolitics, or even the complexities of trade promotion.

These are common perceptions, often cited, from both sides of the “table” in international engagement and trade. Entrepreneurs and business leaders may have a view that policy specialists and others in the government and international institution side are a bit academic, worrying a great deal about technical issues that have little to do with the practical realities of competing and succeeding in international markets.

Government and international institution bureaucrats don’t understand the realities of business.

Businesspeople and entrepreneurs don’t have the first clue about the nuances and intricacies of policy, trade negotiations and geopolitics, or even the complexities of trade promotion.

These are common perceptions, often cited, from both sides of the “table” in international engagement and trade. Entrepreneurs and business leaders may have a view that policy specialists and others in the government and international institution side are a bit academic, worrying a great deal about technical issues that have little to do with the practical realities of competing and succeeding in international markets.

Policy experts and others on the public-sector side can often be frustrated by what they may perceive as unrealistic expectations from the private sector, and may be equally frustrated by the perception that numerous enabling policy tools – like comprehensive and complex trade agreements – are underappreciated and underleveraged by business.

The reality is that trade is a complex form of international engagement, and those who deliver the greatest benefits and successes through trade understand the importance of the ecosystem around international commerce.

Commercially, businesses of all sizes that are aware of the policy environment, both locally and in the international markets where they operate, create opportunities and can leverage significant competitive advantage, or even facilitate and sustain strategically important relationships with trading partners, counterparties and service providers.

At the policy level, nationally, regionally or in international institutions, the mandate to enable the efficient, rules-based and freer flow of trade is core to the mission, and aims to create economic value by helping trade to flourish.

It is not a matter of two opposing views, but a matter of complementary objectives, complementary expertise and capabilities, and the need for greater communication and engagement between stakeholder groups that share an interest in the efficient, profitable, value-creating pursuit of international commerce. In the extreme, the importance of vibrant trade flows extends beyond economic and commercial benefits, to helping assure regional and international security through international commerce.

Policy experts who engage with entrepreneurs and business leaders, and who vision and plan their priorities in alignment with the communities they ultimately serve, will generate greater benefits than those who pursue their remit in isolation. Business executives who are informed about policy priorities, options and direction, and actively engage in shaping that policy (and the broader support through governments and international institutions) can usefully inform and influence policy.

Greater communication and engagement between business leaders and policy-focused stakeholders makes the work of each more relevant to the other, amplifies the impact for each group in reaching their respective objectives, and, taken together across the globe, multiplies the benefits in terms of enhanced standards of living, inclusion and economic benefit.

At the Global Trade Professionals Alliance, the importance of bridge-building between a wide range of disciplines linked to international trade is a core element of our strategy, approach and objective of value-creation. The nexus of policy and business is one that is under-developed and under-leveraged, and contains the seeds of much untapped potential. A global organisation like the GTPA, driven to contribute to the advancement of every area of engagement in international trade, is uniquely placed to help create, maintain and evolve linkages between the most hyper-focused entrepreneur and the most committed, inclusion-driven policy analyst.

Business DOES understand the importance of policy.

Policy and international institution specialists DO appreciate the complexities of leading and building a business.

Many from either group have spent time in the other, and a community like the GTPA which covers every aspect of international trade, business and investment, will help raise the quality and the impact of the business/policy interactions. Alignment based on competencies, shared understanding of the complexities – and opportunities – in international commerce, and a desire to build and leverage a global, trusted network of specialists to advance trade as a force for good: that is the GTPA.

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