In Guinea-Bissau, Rebuilding Confidence to Trade

International Trade Forum, July 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

In Guinea-Bissau, Rebuilding Confidence to Trade


Business success stories from other countries emerging from conflict can help inspire and motivate entrepreneurs in Guinea-Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the world's poorest countries. Its economy is based mainly on agriculture; cashew nuts are its main export. In the 1980s, the country began structural economic reforms that helped boost growth, but civil war, combined with falling cashew prices, set economic development back. Now the Government isfocusingon reconstruction and aims to diversify exports and forge new international trade links.

João Bernardo Vieira is Trade Officer in Guinea-Bissau's Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Craft. In Trade Forum he finds up-to-date information and trends to share with colleagues and spark ideas for trade-related technical cooperation. As part of his work to encourage small and medium-sized firms, he finds the stories of entrepreneurs from other developing and least developed countries inspiring.

Q How long have you been reading our magazine?

A I got acquainted with Trade Forum when I started working in the Ministry four years ago in Bissau. It was kind of love at first sight, because on the one hand I wanted to maximize my knowledge of trade and, on the other, I wanted to keep up to date about how countries were implementing strategies to be self-dependent. Trade Forum combines quality of information and a chance to educate you a bit more.

Q How do you use Trade Forum in your work?

A I use it to formulate ideas, to write technical papers about current trends in the field or to brief colleagues in the department on how we can request tailor-made technical assistance and capacity building that meet our needs, thus contributing to increase our exports. So for me, it's a very useful tool for my work.

Q Do you prefer the print or the online version?

A The online version requires an easy and fast connection to the Internet and no problems with the electricity supply. So, when you take roughly ten minutes to open the web site, another ten to open an article on the site and then the electricity is off by the time you are reading it, you probably aren't motivated to keep on reading. For this reason I prefer to read the magazine the traditional way.

Q Was there a subject or issue of the magazine that was of particular interest, and why?

A Actually there was one story that confirms my thesis that we Africans can do right when there is a political will - the story about how the ginger trade is contributing to the reconstruction process in Sierra Leone [issue 1/2007]. After 22 years of decline in the industry, the country was able to export ginger to several countries in Europe after meeting European standards. …

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