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Thursday, 09 February 2017

UK emphasises trade and the world’s poorest economies

Trade and investment will occupy a strengthened, pivotal place in the UK’s development policy, indicates UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in its “first ever economic development strategy”. The document, released last week, details how DFID intends to work across government departments through an approach that integrates trade, investment, and aid policies to foster economic development and drive poverty reduction. “DFID’s first Economic Development Strategy sets out how investment in economic development will help developing nations speed up their rate of economic growth, trade more and industrialise faster, and ultimately lift themselves out of poverty,” reads a press release jointly issued by DFID and its Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. While DFID’s focus on economic development is not new, the document attempts to build on previous efforts and “bring them together into something that is more actionable, and more coherent,” according to Stefan Dercon, the department’s chief economist. Through this strategy, which is presented as a “vital part” of the new “Global Britain” doctrine, DFID vows to put a particular emphasis on the world’s poorest countries, many of which are to be found in Africa. At a time when demographic trends on the African continent are expected to result in hundreds of millions of young people entering the job market in the next decades, the document stresses the importance of building African economies’ capacity to create jobs and absorb these new entrants. Last summer, UK citizens’ vote to leave the EU had left many observers wondering what impact a so-called “Brexit” would have on the UK’s aid, economic development, and trade policies, in particular towards African countries. While some experts had underlined potential risks for African partners, others had stressed that the referendum could open a new promising chapter in the UK’s trade and development cooperation relations with the continent.

Source: ICTSD