Magazine article African Business

WTO Development Provisions Need Business Approach: Ambassador Darlington Mwape Argues That Business Needs to Be at the Heart of Trade Negotiations

Magazine article African Business

WTO Development Provisions Need Business Approach: Ambassador Darlington Mwape Argues That Business Needs to Be at the Heart of Trade Negotiations

Article excerpt

The architecture of development provisions in the multilateral trading system needs to adopt a business approach if it is to be effective in delivering development objectives. The current development framework was conceived and crafted with the mind-set of "aid granting" and "recipient." Business was not at the epicentre.

Unfortunately, some development-related provisions are couched in language that leaves African countries at the mercy of developed countries. They are "best endeavour" provisions, where developed countries are not obligated to grant whatever is at issue. Therefore the resulting notifications to the WTO or monitoring requirements do not receive the weight they deserve.

Much of this frustrating status quo is attributable to the "aid" mind-set, and we must all endeavour to evolve. Developed countries must understand that if they provide assistance to a Least Developed Country (LDC), that LDC will have an improved business environment for the developed partner to trade. It's a win-win scenario. If an LDC is assisted with regulatory reforms in services, developed-country enterprises will have a better environment for entry and operation.

The mind-set of LDCs should also change from being recipients of aid to doing business. LDCs must be ready to take up commitments that make business sense. However, due to their level of development, such commitments must be accompanied by support to build capacity. The result is that both developed countries and LDCs will work towards the bigger picture of a better multilateral trading system. Aid, of course, has its place. However, it must not be the guiding norm for all economic engagements between the WTO's developed and LDC members.

The fact that commitments under the development provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) are tied to enablement through capacity building should inform negotiations in other areas of trade. …

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