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The Rise of the Private Sector in Trade Facilitation

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Since 2008, negotiations by the World Trade Organization on multilateral agreements have stalled. Disagreements on major issues between key nations have resulted in a deadlock. Coupled with a domestic political stalemate on three free trade agreements, all of which have been negotiated but are stalled in Congress, the future of bilateral trade barrier reduction is uncertain. In response to ongoing trade facilitation issues in the agricultural sector, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative recently issued a report detailing some of the other technical barriers to American exports. As a result of these political roadblocks, the private sector has become more proactive in working directly with their trading partners and government officials in order to facilitate trade and address trade policy issues.

Through working in partnerships, private sector entities have increasingly become their own advocates in trade facilitation. Public-Private Partnerships in agricultural sourcing is one way the food industry has encouraged expanded trade opportunities. Recently we have seen an increase in food manufacturers partnering with producers and farmers in order to develop economically beneficial relationships. Cocoa, coffee and dairy are just a few of the industries in which these partnerships are flourishing.

Pending any action from the WTO or Congress, these relationships will continue to develop as an alternative in trade promotion. For the interim, the efforts of the private sector may be the best solution in order to promote free and fair trade.

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design & development: Fathom Creative, Inc. (fathomcreative.com), Matthew Stevenson, Efrat Levush, Brent Maxwell