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For Immediate Release
Contacts: David Schneider, Mandela Institute

or Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
 

 

Building Trade Capacity: A Promising Beginning

Symposium Launches Mandela Institute's U.S. Efforts

New York, N.Y., June, 2002 — On April 30 in New York City, the Mandela Institute had a coming-out party of sorts. But rather than a swank soirée, supporters of capacity building engaged in a substantive discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing governments, companies and international bodies such as the World Trade Organization as they strive to take advantage of the world trade community's newfound interest in the developing world.

Representatives from the business world, the diplomatic community and key NGOs took part in a symposium on investment stability and capacity building, organized by the Mandela Institute's U.S. advisory board and featuring Institute Director David Unterhalter.

Held at the University Club in midtown Manhattan, the symposium was co-hosted by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), a pro-trade group that counts a great many leading corporations among its members. The symposium was co-chaired by USCIB President Thomas Niles and John Chalsty, Senior Advisor with CS First Boston and Chair of the Mandela Institute's U.S. advisory board. Representatives from government, business and key international organizations contributed to an open discussion of practical methods and opportunities for building trade capacity in developing countries.

The initiative in the United States has won significant support. Three longtime prominent New Yorkers - Mr. Chalsty, David Schneider (both alumni of the University of the Witwatersrand) and Bruce Hubbard - have formed a U.S. advisory board and are spearheading the Mandela Institute's launch in the United States. Organizations that took part in the symposium included the Africa-America Institute, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Numerous businesses and several foreign consulates also fielded participants at the event.

Capacity building is widely recognized as essential to the success of worldwide trade. Following its ministerial meeting in November 2001, the World Trade Organization issued a challenge to its more experienced membership: place the needs of developing countries at the forefront of their work and ensure their meaningful participation in trade negotiations. Both WTO Director General Mike Moore and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick sent messages congratulating participants on the undertaking and encouraging them to share the results of the symposium widely. "Working to build capacity through technical assistance and training is a subject very close to my heart," said Mr. Moore, "and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that two such prestigious institutions are working jointly to assist talented young women and men in Africa in their efforts to become more fully engaged in the global economy."

For his part, Mr. Zoellick wrote: "As we move forward with the Doha Development Agenda and a possible free trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union, there is a clear and important role for private sector institutions like the Mandela Institute to play in efforts to build trade capacity in sub-Saharan Africa."

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