How can IMC help countries and firms boost investment and trade through development aid?

IMC Associate Director Susan Haird introduces our Trade and Investment team and the services it provides to help low-income countries to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

Thursday 18 January 2018, Private: Susan Haird

Over recent years, both donor agencies and developing countries have placed increasing emphasis on trade and investment as engines of poverty reduction, job creation and sustainable growth.

IMC Worldwide has been expanding the range of services it offers to help countries to grow their private sectors, develop trade, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI). I was therefore delighted recently to be invited to join the company as Associate Director – Trade and Investment, and work with them to do more in this area, to help create self-sustaining growth in developing countries.

Everyone I have met at IMC is passionate about what they do, and I have been impressed with the quality and range of projects they deliver worldwide and the results they achieve. If you have not yet visited the IMC impact website, I recommend you do so now.

My own background, for most of my career, was as a civil servant, including latterly as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), now the Department for International Trade. More recently, I was the European Trade and Investment Representative for the Canadian Province of British Columbia. I have also provided advice on trade, investment and private sector growth to a range of countries, including Lebanon, Malta and Japan. And I lecture in trade, investment and economic diplomacy for the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies.

During my time at UKTI, we were delighted to win the World Trade Promotion Organisation (WTPO) award for ‘best trade promotion organisation in the developed world’. It was with great pride that I returned to the UK from Mexico City, where the ceremony took place, to share the award and all it meant with the staff at UKTI.

I was subsequently on the panel to judge the following round of WTPO awards. This was a great privilege, and I was really impressed with the quality of the entries and the transformative nature of what the winners from developing countries had achieved. In a range of innovative ways, they had all increased significantly the ability of their companies to compete in world markets.

Building organisational capability is essential to increase a low-income country’s ability to grow its outbound trade and attract FDI. Equally important is to make policy and regulatory frameworks more business-friendly and ensure that the necessary infrastructure to enable international trade and investment is in place.

How then can we, here at IMC Worldwide, support governmental organisations so they are better placed to help their companies compete internationally and attract FDI?

Our approach would of course be tailor-made for each client. Often, it would be appropriate to begin with an audit of how the trade and investment organisation(s) operate, how they work with companies to help them internationalise, what services they offer, and what companies need.

Then we work with the organisation to look at how it could best be structured, and what sort of skill sets staff need. We can also offer training programmes to its personnel so they are equipped to help local companies internationalise and track and work with foreign investors.

Assistance with identifying comparative advantage and acting on it to maximise the potential for increased trade and investment is part of IMC’s suite of services available to governments.

We also support local companies themselves to grow, attract finance, develop their capacity to export and connect to international markets. Moreover, we train them on website design and effective social media presence.

Assistance on trade facilitation is increasingly important to our government and private clients, as is advice on meeting international standards, economic zones, customs procedures, and logistics. Each of these represent a niche ability of an IMC subject specialist.

To help attract FDI, IMC can provide guidance with proposition development, lead generation, business intelligence and company targeting. To maximise the impact of FDI, advice could be given on account management of key investors and on how to ensure that foreign investors are connected to potential local supply chains. Support to design methods of measuring results and evaluating the impact of services is also available.

On the policy/regulatory front, again a good starting point would be a stocktake of the current situation, with a look at existing policies. Then, we would gather information from local companies and foreign investors to understand what works well and where there is scope to improve the business environment.

At IMC, we are passionate about helping to create growth and jobs in developing countries. Trade and investment are a vital part of this process. I look forward to introducing you to our super Trade and Investment team.

Susan Haird CB, Associate Director Trade and Investment, IMC Worldwide


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