NextBillion Editor

Weekly Roundup 7-18-15, Twitter Top Ten: Steering global development toward pro-poor trade

Editor’s note: So far, so good with our Roundup/Twitter Top 10 combo package, so we’re keeping it rolling at least through the summer months. It’s a lot to take in, but don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom this week we buried some really interesting links down there. Be sure to let us know of any thought-provoking items you come across and we’ll include them next time.

Trade as poverty disabler is in the air, and has been on the agenda, particularly at the fifth Global Review on Aid for Trade in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

“Will Aid for Trade momentum continue after Global Review?” by Adva Saldinger with DevEx, is a 360-degree rundown on the discussions, which were much more about swapping best practices than hammering out new agreements.

“Trade is a bit forgotten in the big discussion. … What I sense is people all of a sudden realized here we have a great means of achieving this goal of eradicating poverty” in a way that is fiscally responsible and can combine traditional official development assistance with the private sector and domestic resource mobilization, Arancha Gonzalez, executive director of the International Trade Center, told DevEx.

Also this week, Ritu Sharma, co-founder and former president of Women Thrive Worldwide, advocates trade deals be executed with the poor in mind. In a piece published in 3BL Media, “5 Ways Trade Can Deliver for the World’s Poor: It’s time to take the conversation about trade and poverty to the next level,” Sharma makes the case for cooperatives and other mechanisms to stem the tide of the poor migrating to cities in search of work, and puts them in peril, both economically and physically:

“Take the jobs to the people. The globalization of trade over the last several decades has emphasized the Export Processing Zone, which drew in workers from rural areas, many of them young women.

“Better infrastructure in many developing countries now makes it possible to locate jobs near villages.

“This expands opportunities to many more people, makes work safer for young women who can continue to live at home and supports the creation of local businesses that support production.”

And, earlier this month, Ariela Alpert and Sarah Craig with the Small & Medium Enterprise Initiative at Innovations for Poverty Action, posted on NextBillion about the results of a new randomized control trial examining how exporting goods benefits emerging market companies compared with those that do not. The researchers worked closely with Hamis Carpets in India and Aid to Artisans to identify some 74 carpet makers. They wanted to find out if exporting products ultimately helped these businesses improve their production and up their quality.

“The research results show that firms offered the opportunity to export produced higher-quality rugs at the end of the study than businesses that were not offered an export contract. To determine whether this difference in quality was due to learning-by-exporting, the researchers had to determine if businesses were always capable of creating higher-quality rugs but chose not to because there was no demand, or if the opportunity to export taught them to produce higher-quality rugs.”

None of this was especially shocking, but IPA says it’s the first organization to actually support a full-scale RCT on the issue. But the organization would like to see more. After all, there’s a lot riding on it, the authors note:

“The World Trade Organization estimates that $48 billion is spent annually on Aid for Trade programs, and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership could significantly alter trade norms. Research on the impact of international trade programs is therefore sorely needed to guide government decision-making.”

All of the focus on trade is exciting and worthy of praise. But it doesn’t mean much for the microentrepreneur or the SME owners if the barriers to entry (or export) remain high because of trade deals that benefit the multinationals.

As DevEx reported: “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that trade costs are up to 17.5 percent higher due to poor or inadequate border procedures that restrict trade. According to OECD estimates, even a 1 percent reduction in global trade costs would increase worldwide income by more than $40 billion, most of which would go to developing countries.”

Assisting, or in some cases pressuring, countries to improve their performance is where development banks and agencies can make a difference in steering the big aircraft carrier of global development toward pro-poor trade. But without the data and research to know how to back up the dollars, they may be using wooden paddles in rough water.

– Scott Anderson

When ‘we’ replaces ‘them’ in global health

It was interesting when Dr. Michael Merson, director of the Duke Global Health Institute, took to the pages of the Durham Herald-Sun in North Carolina to preemptively “explain” the $20 million grant the institute received this week from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

His op-ed anticipates the question many in the institute’s hometown might be asking: With so much need in our own communities, our own state and our own country, why invest in global health?

The fact that the question needs answering is one of the major obstacles in global health: Too many in the developed world still feel disconnected from problems “over there.”

Merson tries his best to bridge that gap. He brings up Ebola, bird flu, climate change and other “defining challenges of our time.” He relates the problems in low- and middle-income countries to those experienced by many people in North Carolina. And, of course, he cites the economic impact the grant will have in his state.

But he gets at the crux of this issue in his last paragraph, when he says the institute is trying to eliminate health disparities in the belief that “when people and nations prosper, we help to ensure a healthier and safer world for our children and grandchildren.” At the end of the day, people either believe and support that statement, or they don’t. Many still don’t.

But that can be changed, as Tony L. Goldberg and Jonathan A. Patz pointed out this week in their opinion piece in The Lancet, entitled “The need for a global health ethic.”

They talk about how U.S. conservationist Aldo Leopold, in “The Land Ethic,” helped establish a new relationship between people and the land. Leopold imagined “the awakening of an ecological conscience that redefines humanity as part of nature, rather than its external conqueror.” Goldberg and Patz say “Leopold’s vision for the land can and should be extended to global health,” reinforcing “the idea of health as an interconnected entity.” The authors argue that “global health will most lastingly be achieved by raising the need for it to the sphere of ethics.

” At present,” they write, “the global health movement is broad but ill defined, inspired by a sense of urgent purpose (staving off ill health around the world), but without the single, deeply internalised, central guiding principle that, according to Leopold, impels sustained societal commitment.”

With all the strides that have been made in global health in recent years – including that $20 million grant to DGHI – imagine what could happen if there were true sustained societal commitment?

– Kyle Poplin

Tweets of the Week

Send your favorite tweets @NextBillion or NB managing editor @ScotterAnderson; global health topics @NextBillionHC; financial inclusion and impact investing topics @NextBillionFI.

Links of interest from the NB Team this week

NASA prioritizing global health research on the International Space Station by Alex Pearlman

Zidisha Helps Connect Lenders With Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries by Amit Chowdhry

Let there be light: The shocking facts and figures that tell Africa’s electricity story by Martin Ganda

Report: Chamber fought anti-smoking laws in low-income countries by Lydia Wheeler

Hong Kong VC Firm Nest Expands to Nairobi to Support Continent’s Talents by

What’s It Like to Have Malaria in a Remote Area? by Patrick Lee

?In Case You Missed It … This Week on NextBillion

Tools for Teaching About Business at the BoP: Initiative seen as a way to raise students’ awareness of the potential in developing countries by Guy Pfeffermann

Solving Customer Service Issues in Digital Finance: The can-do/must-do list by Graham Wright

From Pilots to Systems (Part 1): Achieving systemic and scalable private sector engagement in tuberculosis care and prevention in Asia by William Wells

From Pilots to Systems (Part 2): Achieving systemic and scalable private sector engagement in tuberculosis care and prevention in Asia by William Wells

Health Care
international trade, poverty alleviation