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Business Needs to Enhance Capacity for Trade

Ambassador Thomas M.T. Niles
President, United States Council for International Business

The global business community has a major interest in helping poorer nations develop their trade capacity and enhance their participation in, and implementation of, trade agreements. And American companies – whose interests are increasingly tied to emerging markets – have a particularly important role to play in this endeavor.

One of the new elements in the Declaration adopted at the recent WTO ministerial in Doha was its emphasis on training programs in developing countries aimed at preparing people in those countries to participate in activities such as trade negotiations. Indeed, work on some of the other new WTO agenda items agreed to at Doha – such as investment and competition policy – was explicitly linked to capacity building.

While capacity building is appropriately a role primarily for governments, I believe that business also has an interest in the success of these efforts and, under the general rubric of corporate responsibility, should be alert to opportunities to make its own contribution. In particular, efforts aimed at ensuring effective legal training at quality universities in developing countries deserve support.

The Mandela Institute is one such program. Accordingly, USCIB looks forward to cosponsoring a symposium on the Mandela Institute, April 30 in New York. We will also work to highlight this and other related capacity building initiatives when we host the International Chamber of Commerce’s 34th World Congress, May 6-8 in Denver.