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Aid-for-Trade: Can SMEs be part of the sustainability solution?

Latest report from the Aid-for-trade initiative shows that international trade and investment remain the epicentre of the world economic crisis. Moving forward, with the obvious addition of the war in Ukraine which created a tornado of logistical issues, and moral dilemmas.

The OECD report Aid for Trade at a Glance 2022, Empowering Connected Sustainable Trade goes on to explain, “Spikes in the price of energy and food caused by the war, combined with rapidly rising inflation, are posing serious food security risks in low-income countries (LICs).” This is unfortunately, unravelling many of the gains that Least Developed Countries have won since Aid for Trades inception in 2005, at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong.

Leaving Women Behind in International Trade
However, the report goes on to talk about the problems with gender gap and how the pandemic has hindered women from trading internationally despite having funds to support them. The WTO SheTrades.com initiative has also struggled to gain traction regardless of the great ideas and initiatives it has developed. As with all state level initiatives it needs the private sector to ‘pick up and run with the ideas.’ Investing in these ideas may make sense to governments but they need to make sense to the commercial sector too, this means they must have real financial value or be mandated by law. This is the only sure-fire way to full engagement and compliance with regulatory processes needed to make initiatives stick. At the beginning of 2022 it was clear that ESG (Environment, Sustainability and Governance) was gaining momentum however, as costs rise, and businesses budgets are stretched, the issue of how long the ESG movement can survive is brought into doubt. Having watched the fast transition from gender equality to diversity, without a word of protest, where is the help for women in least, less, and mid developed countries to trade internationally?

Thinking out of the box on re-shoring
As the UK examines global supply chains that were so badly crippled by lockdowns, it seems re-shoring is part of the solution however, built in resilience remains elusive. It would be interesting to see, how many businesses are looking at the Least Developed Countries as new suppliers. These markets offer obvious solutions which offer reduced tariff costs, and a sustainable future for these countries whilst spreading the wealth and profits evenly across the world. At Exportbootcamps.com our latest BootCamps are working to find more innovative solutions to sourcing while working strategically with a wider variety of countries. The days of a simply assuming that sourcing will be from China or India need to be tested in the light of the good that business, even SMEs, can do through trade.

Experts in half a day?
No-one has time to read every report that comes out but as experts in international trade my team, and those in SIITACE.org, work diligently to make sure that compliance, packaging, and marketing issues are covered. Expertise cannot be gained in half a day, but you can gain a good understanding in a core subject.

A cunning plan?
Entering a new market is not about just ‘having a go’ it involves careful planning which is why the London Chamber is working with ExportBootCamps to develop relevant hybrid skills and planning face-to-face workshops that ensure you focus on your business. In these days of recession looming clamping down the hatches may not be the best way to ride out the storm, perhaps you need to move out of it and into new markets. Talk to us about how we can help – it will need a ‘cunning plan’, to quote a great British export, Baldrick, from Black Adder. Next camp date 28 & 29 September, 2022 at the London Chamber.

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