By Arnold Jorge and Andrew Lloyd, from DFAT’s Multilateral Aid for Trade team
In July, about 1,500 delegates gathered at the World Trade Organization in Geneva for the Sixth Global Aid for Trade Review. This event looks at progress that the world is making to improve the lives of poor people by helping them to trade.
Australia is committed to trade as a way to lift people out of poverty. We organised a range of events at the Review to demonstrate work we are doing at the cutting edge. We think new and disruptive technologies being introduced by the private sector have enormous potential to make trade simpler, faster and cheaper. These can help developing countries to ‘leap-frog’ stages of development and better integrate into the global marketplace.
Our event on digital trade highlighted the potential of these technologies, including ‘blockchain’ and ‘fintech’ (or financial technology platforms). These provide new ways for entrepreneurs and businesses in developing countries to market their good and services, buy and sell across borders, and reduce the costs of moving goods around the world. One of our panellists was the Australian company 1-Stop Solutions, who demonstrated new software they developed that is improving port transportation in the Philippines.
At an event called ‘Hack the Pacific’, we showcased a prototype mobile phone application developed by physicists and tech entrepreneurs with seed funding from Australia. The prototype is designed to address the difficulties faced by Pacific farmers getting their products to market because of low volumes and vast distances. If fully developed and implemented, the prototype could allow farmers to provide details of their products to buyers and distributors for more transparent and efficient supply chain management.
It’s not easy for poor people to engage in the international trading system. We organised an event at the Review to look at ways to ensure trade is fair and inclusive, and can make a direct impact on the lives of poor people. This includes through better reporting, improved work standards and better verification of industry processes, so that labour, environmental, social and other economic impacts are addressed in global supply chains.
The Global Aid for Trade Review was a great opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with the world, and promote policies that will encourage secure, inclusive and efficient implementation of the new digital frontier of trade. Helping people to participate in trade will underpin both inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Arnold Jorge is the Director of Multilateral Aid for Trade in DFAT’s Office of Trade Negotiations. He is a policy and strategy specialist with more than 20 years of experience in international trade, finance and development, and has represented Australia at multilateral and regional forums including the WTO, OECD and APEC.
Andrew Lloyd is an aid for trade policy officer for DFAT. He has recently returned from a three-year secondment to the Secretariat of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Singapore.