Following an initial bounce back from the Great Recession, global trade growth has been anemic, even lower than output growth, and much below its breakneck pace of more than 7 percent in the pre-crisis period, according to the statistics and trends in international trade as documented in the UNCTAD 2015 report.
The round table specifically purposed to identify the key problems and challenges facing global trade and discuss the solutions and opportunities available in order to hasten the pace of international trade; especially in developing countries in the pursuit of Sustainable development goals.
Dr. Njenga noted that the question of developing a skilled labor is paramount in the development and growth of trade in Africa. He pointed out that poverty reduction through trade is a question of equipping a population with the required skills to participate in trade competitively. It is noteworthy that he also pointed out technological upgrading as a factor mandatory to increase productivity and economic growth, not only for multinational corporations but also to small and medium enterprises.
Mr. Guillermo Valles gave out his opening remarks, first recognizing the support that Strathmore University has provided to the facilitation of the UNCTAD conference; bringing to mention the large number of volunteering Strathmore students, moderators and panelists. To set he discussion into context, it was noted that trade has always been a path to economic and technological growth.
Political tension and economic volatility have affected economic decisions, consequently leading to an economic slowdown experienced in the world.
Factors that contributed to growth in trade in the 1990s such as dismantling of trade barriers following the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), have exhausted their potential and no longer contribute to growth in trade today. There is a huge potential to expand trade in Africa, evidenced by the resilience of south-south trade compared to the south-north trade.
The discussions clearly brought out the great need to expand trade by opening markets, not only in Africa but also in South America and Asia. There is a global need to discover and encourage new potential sources of global trade.Service provider enterprises are booming in emerging economies, synonymous to the rapidly catching on middle class population. A deeper understanding of trade between different trade regions in the world will further improve the coherence of policies, regulations as well nurturing cohesive institutions.
The tremendous potential of the Agricultural sector in developing countries was key in the discussion. It was noted that transferring technological infrastructure to farmers in developing countries will not only increase output but also improve on quality and reduce costs incurred by farmers who are yet to adopt new technology in their production process.
In conclusion, the discussion brought out a clear understanding that trade gives us an opportunity to share in development, governance, peace and global growth.
Article written by Wycliffe Guguni, Strathmore University_ Students Council President.