Regional economic integration vital for growth
Regional economic integration can boost private sector growth, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Tetteh. Speaking at the launch of a high-level ITC debate on '50 Years of Trade Impact' on 10 June 2014, Ms. Tetteh said SME development has transformed Ghana's economy. She added that trade facilitation has helped to improve the export competitiveness of Ghana's products and services. Ms. Tetteh stressed the importance of economic engagement with the rest of the world for prosperity.
Echoing Ms. Tetteh's sentiments, Laos People's Democratic Republic's Minister of Industry and Commerce, Khemmani Pholsena, said SMEs can play a role in sustainable and inclusive growth, and can foster a positive business environment to support regional integration.
For the growth of manufacturing-based countries such as Brazil, regional economic integration is a crucial factor, according to the Secretary of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade of Brazil, Daniel Godinho. He stated that free trade with Latin America can enhance Brazil's industries, particularly its agri-food production industry.
Patricia Francis, a former ITC Executive Director, said dynamism in Africa can develop in an exponential manner through partnerships for investment. She added that regional co-operation can develop economies of scale which will be beneficial for countries and enable them to take off.
To do so, infrastructure is critical to allow trade to flourish, said the Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion at the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), Kalilou Traore. He underscored the need for road, railway and communication networks that will strengthen efforts towards the establishment of a common market in the region and increasing intra-African trade.
Former ITC Executive Director J. Denis Belisle said helping SMEs through trade promotion can make a huge difference to economies. Meeting their business needs through capacity building and involving them in technical assistance delivery efforts is useful as they can serve as an example of the success that can be achieved. He commended ITC for its support of SMEs over the past 50 years and for its contributions in trade promotion and facilitation.