Projects & Research
TOP has already initiated a programme of research in five key areas; we will organise meetings and media activity, directly approach decision makers in government and international organisations and develop briefing materials to highlight our findings.
We will build partnerships with NGOs, charities, trades unions and business groups, churches and other faith groups to work together to focus attention on the opportunities for boosting trade with the poorest countries.
Programme of Research
TOP plans to promote research, either alone or in cooperation with other organisations, covering all the obstacles which prevent low income countries from participating in international trade.
The purpose of this research is to identify obstacles to trade with a view to finding practical ways of overcoming – as well as raising awareness of the importance of facilitating trade as the best route to development.
TOP has already initiated a programme of research covering a number of key areas:
Trade Preferences as a Tool for Development
Trade Out of Poverty will first examine and catalogue existing barriers to trade between the European Union and other developed trading blocks and all LDCs and LICs. TOP worked with the Washington-based Center for Global Development and helped launch in Brussels and London this report entitled: ʻOpen Markets for the Poorest Countries: Trade Preferences that Workʼ: (http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1423918/) However, this was primarily from an American perspective. We need a more comprehensive analysis of North/South barriers.
South-South trade barriers
Less than a tenth of African exports go to other African countries – yet three quarters of European exports go to other European states. We are discussing with SABMiller, BAA and TMEA a series of studies of the barriers which prevent intra-African trade, the damage they do, the economic potential if they go and the strategies to remove them.
Ways of improving access to trade finance for exporters in low income countries
Ways of improving access to and the cost of trade finance for exporters in low income countries and increases its cost. The current system appears to restrict and raise the cost of access by poor countries to trade finance. We plan a study of how bank rules need to be changed and the role of multilateral financial agencies enhanced to boost trade finance for LDCs.
Export and Domestic Subsidies
We have a modest objective of looking surgically at the areas of the Common Agricultural Policy that most impinge on the poorest countries. TOP is not proposing its wholesale reform. TOP will look at agriculture and other subsidies, not with a utopian view of their total abolition but to identify aspects that most impinge on the exports of the poorest countries.
Sanitary and phyto-sanitary barriers to trade
Professor Jeff Waage of the London School or Oriental and African Studies has brought together many of the experts in this field. They have produced a brief outline for a technical report on the scale and impact of these rules together with suggestions about the scope for harmonising and reducing their impact on trade while accepting the right of developed countries to prevent the introduction of toxins, pests or diseases. We plan to publish a report based on their work.