Greening Your Business

International Trade Forum, January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Greening Your Business


Clearing up grey areas in countries' "green" economies will heighten export opportunities.

Environmental products, services and technologies make up a US$ 475 billion market. By 2010, it's expected to reach US$ 640 billion, with a share of over 15% for developing and transition economies. Developing economies have a competitive edge, with rich natural resources and their own clean technology solutions that have emerged in response to local demand, and which are likely to be of interest to other developing countries.

Exporters also face many eco-challenges. From eco-friendly packaging to organically-grown food, there's growing pressure on exporters to "go green". Major international buyers are making "sustainability" a requirement in their supply chains.

To compete, producers have to show technological innovation, quality and service performance, and flexibility in producing their goods and services. Weak environmental support systems mean they usually face these competitive challenges unaided.

From avocados to sports shoes, environmental protection standards often act as market access barriers. Exporters from least developed countries are particularly affected, yet most don't participate in setting standards. "Green" trade measures do have an impact on a number of goods but it's difficult to evaluate their effect because little information is available about which goods are affected.

Trade developers of biodiversity products in developing countries face challenges beyond the issue of market access. Lack of information about market opportunities makes it difficult to find investors and business partners. Adding value, establishing economies of scale and managing resources in a sustainable way are other challenges. Local communities, the traditional caretakers of biodiversity resources, may not have the right business training or skills.

There's still too little awareness in the developing world about environmental trade opportunities and solutions to "green" export challenges. Institutional weaknesses and limited coordination among national standards institutes, environmental protection agencies and other advisory and certifying bodies leave gaps.

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