State has role in fostering enterprises
The UNCTAD Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development, in its conclusions at the end of its first session, has recognized the need for developing countries and transition economies to pursue enterprise development strategies. The enterprise development process should take into account various factors relating to growth and competitiveness of enterprises and in this regard, the State has to play an important role in creating an effective enabling environment.
GENEVA: Developing countries and the transition economies need to pursue enterprise development strategies, and the State has to play an important role in creating an effective enabling environment, UNCTAD's Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development, agreed on 24 January.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and micro- enterprises need a coherent policy framework and effective support measures and structures for their development and the State has to play an important role in this, the Commission said in its agreed conclusions at the end of its first session. The week-long meeting, which brought together representatives from nearly 100 countries and heard presentations from experts and entrepreneurs, agreed on a work programme, on enterprise development strategy and for services infrastructure for development and trade efficiency, and for convening three expert meetings.
Three expert meetings
One expert meeting will focus on the roles of government and the private sector, including NGOs, and interaction between them in creating a coherent policy framework and setting up effective support measures for development of SMEs and micro-enterprises.
The Commission has identified this topic as an area needing further analytical work and policy research, and has invited governments to prepare contributions to enable the drawing of lessons from country experiences and identify policy elements that governments could take into consideration in formulating their policies.
Two other expert groups, on services infrastructure and trade efficiency are also to be convened.
The first, in April 1997 will be on the use of information technologies to make transit arrangements more effective, with special focus on problems of land-locked and access-granting countries.
The second meeting, in September, will be on telecommunications, business facilitation and trade efficiency þ with focus on the practical trade and development implications of the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) and its applications for the Global Trade Point Network (GTPNet).
In the trade efficiency area, the Commission endorsed the various technical assistance programmes provided by UNCTAD, to assist countries and enterprises in improving their trade efficiency, but called on the UNCTAD secretariat to develop a "strategic approach" and enhance its "analytical capacity" in this area.
In the private discussions of the Commission, several participating countries were of the view that while individual programmes were useful, a strategic approach was lacking.
The Commission recognized the importance for developing countries, in particular the LDCs, and the economies in transition, to develop enterprise development strategies, paying particular attention to a number of factors at domestic and international levels.
They have to take account of the changing and heterogenous nature of enterprises and of international competition, taking into consideration technological complementarities across industries, the rapid pace of technological change and the need for effective integration into global markets.
The enterprise development process is complex, and policies need to address the multiplicity and interaction of factors that underpin the growth and competitiveness of enterprises at both domestic and international levels, and need an integrated approach - supportive policies and instruments, innovation, inter-firm cooperation, dialogue between government and business, and mobilization of resources, notably for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
It needs a coherent policy environment, linking macro and micro policies which are appropriately timed and sequenced with firm level efforts to attain and maintain competitiveness.
In this, the State has an important role to play in creating an effective enabling environment, and in facilitating an enterprise culture, market networks conducive to entrepreneurship, innovation and inter-firm cooperation, both internally and internationally.
The Commission also underscored the importance of a coherent policy environment which links macro and micro policies which are appropriately timed and sequenced with firm level efforts to attain and maintain competitiveness.
On enterprise development, the Commission agreed that further analytical work and policy research on development and growth of enterprises is needed within UNCTAD, and the secretariat should begin analytical work on ways and means of promoting and facilitating effective inter-firm cooperation, including clustering, networking and technology partnership, both domestically and internationally, as an instrument in fostering enterprise development and competitiveness.
Two other areas identified as needing analytical and research work are:
* development of innovation, entrepreneurial and technological capabilities as essential inputs for development and growth of enterprises, and
* the short and long-term impacts of macro-economic reform and liberalization on the development and growth of enterprises, particularly on SMEs.
Services Infrastructure & Trade Efficiency
On services infrastructure and trade efficiency, the Commission agreed that in a globalizing and liberalizing economy, the competitiveness of traders, and particularly SMEs, depends on access to information and information technologies and on availability of simplified, compatible procedures and practices.
This is a particularly important challenge for developing countries, especially the LDCs, and countries in transition.
In this context, UNCTAD should develop its strategic approach to, and enhance its analytical capacity for Trade Efficiency, building upon the practical and action-oriented work which it has been doing in this area, the Commission said, adding, the trade competitiveness of smaller firms in these countries is of central importance to their more active participation in international trade.
The Commission also asked the UNCTAD secretariat to pursue its work in the area of services infrastructure for development and trade efficiency (on customs, transport, banking and insurance, business practices/trade facilitation, business information, telecommunications, transit, human resources development, and legal issues) in an integrated fashion, so as to maximize synergies and economies of scale that may be identified in these areas. Within each of these areas, the secretariat should also focus on a limited number of priorities.
Taking note of the expansion of the Trade Point programme and the interest of member countries in participating in the programme, the Commission asked the secretariat to solicit contributions for this purpose.
The secretariat was also asked to provide as early as possible, an evaluation of the programme. The secretariat was also asked to produce an information note on the basis of costs and benefit analysis of practical ways and means to ensure the legal protection of the Trade Point and Global Trade Point Network names and logos. (TWN/SUNS3910)
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