NTF II representatives share insights at WEDF 2012
Three representatives from NTF II projects in Bangladesh, Senegal and South Africa participated at this year’s World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Jakarta, adding their own insights and contributions to this unique global forum dedicated to supporting export-led development. WEDF provides an issue-focused platform for policymakers, trade support institutions and business people to gain practical understanding in export competitiveness, within a framework of Aid for Trade and trade-related technical assistance.
Alioune Sarr, General Director of the Senegalese Export Agency (ASEPEX), said during a session on "Innovations Along the Supply Chain: Can smallholder producers ever succeed in export supply chains?" that Senegal's mango sector has a long history, which traditionally involves small producers and enterprises. Only three companies have more than 100 staff, he said, and many operate in rural communities and use a predominantly female workforce.
According to Sarr, a major problem in Senegal's mango value chain is post-harvest losses of between 5% and 10%, which arise mainly because of infrastructure problems such as poor transportation links. Several initiatives are under way to improve competitiveness, including the creation of a sector-level institution bringing together stakeholders across the sector. With the backing and assistance of NTF II, support is provided in marketing, branding and matchmaking to develop export links for producers.
Douglas Comrie, Managing Director of B&M Analysts and chief facilitator of the Durban Automotive Cluster in South Africa, illustrated the challenges of clustering and industrial cooperation within a sector during a WEDF session on "Growing Value: Meeting the demands of new consumer markets while strengthening local value addition". He described the problems facing the automotive industry in South Africa, where annual production of 700,000 vehicles represents just 0.6% of global production, which means local companies are in no position to dictate design or location.
With the domestic market growing at only a modest rate while regional growth is relatively robust, exports must compete with imported second-hand vehicles, Comrie said. NTF II South Africa is following a strategy that aims to enlarge the domestic market with more local content, improve competitiveness and work to expand regional trade.
Comrie drew a comparison with the booming Thai auto industry — Thailand is the world’s 8th-largest producer of light vehicles — and said that South Africa could learn much from the Thai model in terms of clustering and cooperation within the industry.
Speaking during the session on "How to Promote Services Sector Exports and Innovation", Imtiaz Ilahi, Managing Director of GraphicPeople, Bangladesh, said key factors in the services sector are people — including language, culture and competence — as well as processes and tools. Labour conditions tend to be a primary indicator of an offshore location’s maturity, whether it is pioneering, emerging, established or saturated, he said.
Technological innovation does not guarantee business success and while diagnosing export problems is easy, delivering solutions is more complex, Ilahi said. Common challenges relate to the talent pool, costs, infrastructure, country risk, and the business and living environment. TPOs can help in facilitating market access, skill development and infrastructure, while talent and human capital are key to moving up the value chain, he said.
More than 500 delegates representing more than 90 countries from across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas attended the 13th edition of WEDF to debate approaches to expanding trade flows between and within the world’s growth markets. During the three-day event, discussions focused on the growing importance of emerging market interregional and intraregional trade, the role of trade and commodity supply chains in achieving food security and access to trade finance.