Trade critical for development of SIDS (en)
Trade is a priority in building the resilience and sustainable development of small island developing states (SIDS), said the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha González. Enhancing regional integration, exploiting niche products and services, ratifying trade agreements and improving trade facilitation are some of the ways in which trade and development can help SIDS in overcoming their vulnerability, she added.
Addressing the plenary session of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, on 2 September 2014, Ms González emphasized the importance of building the productive capacity of the private sector and policy maker to take advantage of trade opportunities.
‘There remains much that can be done to help SIDS to further explore the potential which exists to enhance the value addition of their goods and services,’ said Ms González. ‘There are many new opportunities that need to be explored by the international community to support the sustained economic development of SIDS. There is a need to anchor their special needs, particularly those related to trade, within global co-operation and partnerships to ensure more effective support to build their resilience and allow them to exploit areas where they can build an advantage.’
The Executive Director outlined five areas in which support for SIDS can further stimulate socio-economic growth. The first avenue, she said, is to focus on building the domestic capacity to allow SIDS to produce and trade. While international development partners have a role to play in providing the tools, SIDS governments and private sector have to create the appropriate business environment to capitalise on opportunities.
Ms González pointed out the need to focus on investment and not just aid, as the second way in which development among SIDS can be fostered through foreign direct investment.
‘Creating a business and regulatory environment conducive to encouraging investment and exploring new and novel routes such as impact investing may be the way forward. Third, we need to renew existing partnerships and establish new and innovative ones. This means not looking at traditional public-private partnerships but also whether there is scope to engender private-private partnerships in SIDS especially in the tourism and biodiversity arenas,’ she stated.
Ms González added that these partnerships include the United Nations community working together to boost the competitiveness of the tourism sector for the poorest and most disadvantaged communities. A fourth area that can benefit SIDS is to increase the competitiveness of their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
‘Supporting access to finance for SMEs, especially women-owned enterprises to allow them to produce and trade; ensuring transparent trade facilitating measures to allow goods and services to be exported, and for inputs for export to be imported; and creating a framework that helps SMEs to better identify and meet quality standards, both public and private, are areas that the ITC has worked in and will continue to partner with SIDS.’
The fifth factor highlighted by Ms González, is to empower women and to support their entrepreneurship which can boost job creation and contribute to socio-economic advancement for their communities. She stressed that concrete actions must be taken in an integrated manner to achieve greater effectiveness, accountability, taking into account the economic, social and environmental dynamics of an island state.