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Abu-Ghazaleh Tackles Trade Policy Implications, Highlights the Role of Partnerships

06-Jun-2013 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 5986
Special to ag-IP-news Agency

BEIJING - HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org), the global organization for professional services and education, strongly stressed that restrictions on imports can also be de facto restrictions on exports.

Speaking at the Beijing edition of the Global Services Forum (GSF) held at the China National Convention Center, Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh said:" A wide variety of services contribute value to product development and manufacture, all across the value chain; this provides opportunities for businesses to diversify into service sectors that support, while not necessarily entail, manufacturing per se."

He added:" Governments can seek to contribute to increasing the share of value which their enterprises may add to global value chains.   The main role of government is to create an enabling environment.  That means first to the basics: adequate infrastructure (roads, ICTs, ports, schools, good quality restaurants and hotels), predictability in law and business regulation, and good administration.   The other important job for governments is to eliminate barriers and bottlenecks."

The Beijing edition of the Forum is jointly organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China and the Beijing Municipality.

According to the World Economic Forums 2012 survey of global business executives, it found that the most pressing constraints limiting greater export success included: High costs or delays from national or international transportation (14%), Corruption at borders (12%) in addition to Tariff and non-tariff barriers (20%).

"Clearly high costs, delays, corruption and tariff and non-tariff barriers are key targets for national governments looking for an easy success on the way to more competitive export growth," he said.

According to Abu-Ghazaleh, one of the key phenomena we have witnessed in recent decades is the proliferation of preferential trade agreements. 

"Much discussion has been ongoing as to whether this helps advance or hinder the basic bedrock principle of the GATT/WTO which is non-discrimination.  The reality is that preferential trade agreements probably do both, and are also a sign, and not merely a cause, of trouble in the multilateral negotiations.   Every WTO member is involved in at least one preferential trade agreement (PTA) and the average is 13 PTAs per member.  This is in addition to over 6000 bilateral investment treaties," he said.

"Despite the preponderance and proliferation of PTAs, they do not seem to make a huge impact on tariffs per se.  In fact, according to the WTO, “over two-thirds of the product lines facing tariffs of over 15% have not benefitted from any reduction under PTAs,” and “the overwhelming impression of modern PTAs is that they are not primarily about tariffs,” he added.

Meanwhile and at the Creating and Promoting Partnerships high-level session, Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh presented Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University (TAGIUNI) a global online university which was established in 2011.

"We established TAGIUNI to fill a very clear and obvious gap in educational services in the Middle East.   In a critical 2009 study, UNESCO reported that higher education in the Arab world continually fails to meet the needs of students, employers, and society at large. Institutions in the Arab world are overcrowded, understaffed, underfunded, and they produce too many graduates with qualifications that are not in sync with today’s labor market. Moreover, the UNESCO Institute of Statistics predicts that by 2015, the Arab world will be short of 300,000 teachers; second only to Sub-Saharan Africa, which will be short of 1.2 million," he said.

"Furthermore, available statistics have shown that on average, only 1% of students at Arab universities are from outside the Arab world. This clearly shows that inward student mobility is almost nonexistent. On the contrary, out-going students from the Arab countries at the postgraduate level are estimated at 53%, mainly in doctorate programs," he added.

He stated :"Here we come across one of the many potential benefits of services partnerships: credibility, brand names, and expertise, and added value for customers, are benefits that we are receiving from a wide range of partnerships with top tier global schools, testing, accrediting and technology service providers."

So far TAGIUNI has partnered with Microsoft, Samsung, the British Council, the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban), the University of Cambridge International Examinations, Canisius College in New York, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Pearson-Edexcel, International Training and Development Group of Australia in addition to others. 

"Now, as a result of these services partnerships, Arab students, and their families, have the added confidence of knowing that when they study at TAGIUNI, they not only have the TAG-Org name and reputation to rely on, but numerous well-known global educational organizations," he said. 

"Of course the benefits of a partnership are never, or should never, be just one-way.  For our global partners, they gain privileged access to a large and growing educational market," he added.

He concluded by saying that inter-firm partnerships are an essential and ordinary part of doing business in the 21st Century.

The May 28-29 Forum is an annual event that brings together highest-level policy-makers, services regulators, heads of international organizations, CEOs and private sector representatives, coalitions/associations of services industries, renowned academics and other stakeholders to openly discuss strategies and approaches to strengthen the development impact of services.

The Beijing edition of the Forum is jointly organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China and the Beijing Municipality.
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