Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
The fifth plenary session focused firstly on the challenges encountered in regional integration and how to overcome them, and secondly on critical factors contributing to the success of public-private partnerships.Mr. Kiguta described the establishment of the East African Community, which had just completed the five year process of implementing a customs union. He said that it intended to move towards a common market by 2015, with the intention of establishing freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour.The success of the customs union had been in eliminating internal tariffs and reducing common external tariffs to three bands 0%, 10% and 25%. A common customs law had been enacted for the region.The result had been to make the region more attractive for inward investment, and had also been to stimulate intra-community trade, which had increased over the five year period by 40%, with no member country seeing a fall in exports.Future challenges included eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade and raising awareness of what had been done, and the opportunities and benefits that could accrue to businesses and the countries from the union. Sovereignty attitudes persisted, and there were complications arising from multiple memberships of regional integration blocs, each with their own regimes on matters such as rules of origin, which made life difficult for businesses.The response was to enact laws with a regional scope on matters such as competition and harmonization of standards, and engaging in training and orientation programmes to persuade national functionaries to think regional rather than national.Mr. Pardede discussed the importance of competition laws and said that anti-competitive business practices often resulted from over-ambitious targets set by governments; however they threatened the sustainability of development and resulted in exploitation of less developed countries.He said competition laws should be integrated with free trade agreements.On public-private partnerships, Ms. Gόmez, described the highly successful development and promotion of the Chilean wine industry, which was now a major world exporter. The first step to successful collaboration had been liberalization of the market, and this had required the private sector to speak with a single voice in discussions with the government, achieved by formation of associations.The Chilean model saw the government providing support, but the private sector taking the lead in managing the process of promotion and developing the Chilean trade mark. Even the very large companies had seen the advantage of this and joined the association.A key element was innovation in the industry, and a partnership had been established with the universities, with government support and the private sector again taking the lead.Mr. Boon described the latest developments in Malaysia’s privatization process which involved promotion of professional service providers. He described how the government insisted that professional groups, such as engineers or architects, should take the initiative on, promotion of exports of professional services especially by focusing on their strengths in niche areas such as development of a Green Building Rating.Building on the strength of Malaysian service providers in the area of design, the government had supported an initiative to promote Malaysia’s design skills overseas, with participation at the Venice Biennale as a first step.Ms. Ortiz described how her company had responded to the need to open new markets for Colombian goods following the crisis by taking an initiative to promote Colombian goods at the International Expo in China, with the support of the government.She said Colombian SMEs had been unwilling to commit themselves to explore an unfamiliar new market, so where in the past Avia Export had organized conventional trade missions, on this occasion it took the financial risk of purchasing items from suppliers and transporting them to China to test the reactions of Chinese consumers visiting the Expo.