ITC Executive Director speaks at opening session of Annual Investment Meeting 2012 in the United Arab Emirates (en)
Members of the panel were Ministers of Commerce, Economy and Foreign Trade from Ghana, Libya, Turkey and Pakistan. Each of the participants gave presentations about their countries’ points of view and Ms. Francis responded to questions directed to her following their presentations.
The Executive Director was asked why it was that Arab states have not specifically used regional trade as a tool to expand. Ms. Francis responded by noting that their economies focus mainly on oil and gas, but they need to diversify in order to take advantage of human resources, youth and women. She added that ITC’s experiences thru its Enhancing Arab Capacity For Trade (ENACT) programme showed that there was a lack of knowledge about opportunities in the regions and that complementary trade only made up 30% of trade, which could be improved upon.
Following this, Ms. Francis was asked about the issues surrounding Non Tariff Barriers and growing protectionism. She expressed her view that Non Tariff Measures and Non Tariff Barriers are increasing not only because tariffs have decreased but also that Private Standards are expanding. She added that some of these were for legitimate reasons but with others WTO, UNCTAD and the World Bank have built a platform to increase transparency and, as in the global crisis, this proved to be a helpful in fighting protectionism.
Finally, she was asked about Foreign Direct Investment opportunities and how to attract them. She said that liberalization of telecommunications and financial services provided a platform to attract investment but that it is also necessary to have the right regulatory framework in place to ensure proper operation of the market as well as good competition policies in order to ensure services remain competitive. She expressed a view that this would be the basis on which ICT services like back office operations and software development could be attracted in future.