This high level meeting considered whether a multilateral agreement on trade facilitation at the WTO Ministerial in Bali could provide African nations and the global trading system with the tools to unlock Africa’s economic and social potential.
Key points from emerged from this meeting:
Regional integration is essential for improving trade. African states should have more autonomy over decisions that affect them. Cooperation between states can provide a collective voice, increasing negotiating power at global meetings.
Borders must become more efficient to reduce the time and costs incurred when crossing them – an issue particularly damaging to smaller businesses, and one that requires diplomatic cooperation.
More investment is needed in infrastructure and research to improve goods transportation and develop efficiency improvements. Better technology and data would create better policy decisions. The private sector should be more involved.
Global cooperation is still vital. Openness is not enough on its own as other costs are still high. Bali represents an opportunity to revitalise international trade agreements. An agreement should be realistic and reflect existing best practice.
Wilton Park is the jewel within that unique, if typically understated, clutch of globally influential institutions with which the UK is blessed. It serves a purpose of ever greater global importance in providing an all too rare unpressured space for international decision makers to discuss the world’s most pressing problems in the spirit of reason and mutual respect. Working for a company that both supports and benefits from efforts to bridge communities and pursue mutually supportive sustainable growth, I appreciate the critical international role Wilton Park quietly and professionally fills in reinforcing such efforts and I look forward to developing our partnership over coming years.