51. Economic Diplomacy

20 Jan

Economic Diplomacy

1. As part of the State’s foreign policy, economic affairs and trade are now being given greater priority. Indeed, these areas are now key factors in the development of contemporary international politics.

2. “Economic diplomacy” has become an inseparable part of the conventional diplomacy. Actually, a diplomacy that does not promote economic development risks having its role devalued in the modern State.

3. While traditionally the cooperation and the maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security have been and still are today essential objectives of diplomacy, it is clear that economic and commercial aspects are fundamental parts of the diplomatic activity of a considerable number of countries. This activity is essentially related to investment, exports, the role of protection and assistance in these areas, and also the promotion of tourism.

4. In the field of modern diplomacy, globalization and the technological revolution demand change and effective adaptation of the traditional roles and responsibilities of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. These should be based on the necessary professionalization of the diplomatic function, and include the task of reconciling, through institutional mechanisms, actions that formerly belonged exclusively to them with other ministries (or governmental agencies ) that handle areas such as economic matters and trade.

5. Links should also be established with non-State actors including business executives, civil society representatives and NGOs with the aim of maintaining a constructive dialogue and cooperation in order to achieve economic objectives linked to national interests.

6. For a State, its economic power, the dynamism of its trade and its presence in global markets, allow alliances and resolve conflicts much easier than if it did not have such clout. However, the political benefits of an active trade diplomacy are not instantaneous, nor are there always economic dividends arising from political friendships.

7. The political power of a State does not rest solely and directly on economic parameters.  A State must coherently combine the capacity to trade with operations in other fields and all must be linked to greater social cohesion. It is the versatility and the synthesis of all these factors which provide the political clout of a State.

8. Professional diplomacy is most suitable for this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its political weight in favour of businesses and investments and bring political and economic benefits to its nationals abroad.

9. In practical terms, within the framework of the Foreign Ministries, central management of these actions is usually the competence of a deputy minister. While in the embassy is run by the ambassador, often there is an attaché who is exclusively responsible for these functions. This officer could be designated as “adviser” to give more relevance to his work, which consists essentially of advocacy, analysis and evaluation, and the duty to inform, assist and advise.

10. Clearly, economic and commercial diplomacy should be a key State project that requires a strong background of the diplomats from a multidisciplinary perspective. Their specialised work, to be effective, requires constant updating of knowledge and techniques and procedures. It is also essential for them in this exercise to ensure appropriate consistency in the identification of sustained national economic interests abroad in order to allow for effective economic diplomacy outside of the State.

Editor’s Note: Credits to Amb. Manuel Morales Lama

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