Trade promotion agencies to balance business resilience and “good trade”
Businesses around the world are facing supply chain challenges, while feeling the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
The supply chain crisis is causing inflation to rise in many countries as companies seek new sources of supply and new ways to ship and source in unstable markets.
Small businesses with fewer reserves are the most affected. The ripple effect is huge, as they represent most businesses everywhere in national economies.
We must do everything we can to make these companies more resilient in times of crisis.
Rather than going back to normal or moving to a new normal, there may be no “normal” for these companies.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and food insecurity crises will continue to challenge businesses in the years to come.
This is where national trade promotion organizations can tip the balance towards successful societies. ..
Countries are seeking ownership of their future – but are more connected than ever. National trade promotion organizations are unsung champions, building businesses that create jobs and bring hope to future generations.
They have local knowledge, connections and experience to help people start businesses, grow and compete globally.
But not just any business. We need truly sustainable “good trade”. This way, in the event of a shock, businesses and communities will not be hard hit.
This requires radical change. Trade based on commodity exports, foreign investment or short-term supplier contracts in global markets is not enough.
The pandemic has shown us that we must have a vested interest in supporting “good trade” – trade that brings women, young entrepreneurs and vulnerable groups into value chains; focuses on non-traditional exports; strengthens regional ties; enables a transition to a green economy; and makes micro, small and medium enterprises more resilient to future crises.
In Ghana, the reference to sustainable trade or a green economy is still a somewhat new concept for start-ups. It is therefore within the mandate of agencies such as the Ghana Export Promotion Authority to break up these conversations, enable MSMEs to buy into the concept and adapt these practices for business continuity and success.
During the pandemic and in the months that followed, many small businesses spent their time profitably by engaging in capacity building programs.
At the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, for example, modules on trade for sustainable development have taught companies how to implement green business practices by targeting resource efficiency, circular economy, standards sustainability, e-commerce and access to finance.
The overall objective is to empower businesses to compete in international markets, facilitating their participation in sustainable global value chains as they understand and implement sustainable business issues.
What is true in Ghana is true in other countries.
Businesses do better when they have access to the networks and market information of business support organizations, according to a study by the International Trade Center for its SME Competitiveness Outlook. Countries with such organizations have more exporters than those without.
In addition, companies engaged with business support organizations are three times more likely to export.
This service is important because companies that export generally fare better than those that do not, according to ITC’s COVID-19 Business Impact Surveys conducted in 16 countries. Firms that export were twice as likely to create new or customized products to deal with the pandemic as those that did not.
Obviously, trade promotion agencies provide useful services. It is important that they come together to compare what works best. This is why the International Trade Center and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority are co-sponsors of the Global Trade Promotion Organizations Conference and Awards, taking place in
Accra Tuesday and Wednesday 17 and 18 May.
For “good commerce” to become a reality, solutions need to be more digital, sustainable and partnership-based.
This is why the conference will reward national trade development agencies with global awards for such initiatives. The Ghana Export Promotion Authority, in fact, is a past winner of these awards.
These unsung champions need their stories heard so that countries around the world can be inspired to make the switch to sustainable trade.