Economic and trade diplomacy
1. In accordance with contemporary requirements, economic issues and trade have been established in the external actions of states as consistently growing objectives which are now given greater priority. They also are regarded as key factors in the current dynamics of international politics.
2. Cooperation and the maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security have traditionally been, and remain today, essential goals of diplomacy. However, it is clear that economic and commercial aspects, particularly those related to investment, exports, protection and assistance are essential aspects of the diplomatic activity of a considerable number of countries.
3. In light of globalization and the new technological revolution, diplomacy as currently practised tends to require modification and effective adaptation of the traditional roles and responsibilities of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (and the corresponding foreign service).
4. This adaptation requires the coordination of activities that once belonged exclusively to them with other ministries that have common skills in areas related to foreign trade, and also regular consultation and cooperation with non-state actors involved in this area. Actually, economic and trade diplomacy involves joint efforts through cooperation between governments and the private and public business sector with respect to external actions to achieve economic goals linked to the national interests.
5. It is also essential to ensure greater consistency in the identification of sustained national economic interests abroad and, through careful analysis, develop a model that can effectively guide economic diplomacy in carrying out external economic action.
6. It is clear that the so-called economic and trade diplomacy has become an inseparable element of conventional diplomacy, particularly in its professional management. However, a diplomacy that specialises in economic promotion, while lacking a strong background in this field, runs the risk of having devalued its role in the modern State.
7. The implementation and development of economic and commercial diplomacy, often a key state project, should be consistent. Its executors must be up-to-date with international economic and trade issues and must be prepared to constantly update their knowledge and the rapidly evolving technical procedures in international trade and its parallel negotiations.
8. It is, therefore, essential in this exercise to actually have the technological resources in order to obtain the information necessary for the formulation of international trade policy areas. These should include the necessary “software” developed by the World Bank and UNCTAD, which facilitates the management of international databases and provides commercial information to estimate potential fiscal impacts on trade due to tariff changes and trade flows, among other essential issues.
9. In many Foreign Ministries, the department dealing with economic and trade diplomacy is usually headed by a vice-ministry, though some countries may have a separate Ministry of Foreign Trade. Where there is a separate Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Trade must remain the sole entity that sends instructions to the foreign mission on aspects of economic diplomacy.
10. Economic and trade diplomacy is gaining greater momentum internationally. For a State, its economic power, the dynamism of its trade and its presence in global markets, allow it to crystallise alliances and resolve conflicts that could not otherwise if it did not possess these clouts. But the political benefits of an active trade diplomacy is not instantaneous, nor does its economic strength guarantee lasting political friendship with other States.
11. The political force of a State does not rest solely and directly on its economic parameters. It is necessary to combine the ability to consistently trade with the operation in other fields, and all this must be coupled with greater social cohesion. It is the versatility and the synthesis of all these factors that provided the political weight of a State. Professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favour of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to the State’s nationals overseas.
© by Odeen Ishmael