This portfolio consists of a mixture of tasks relevant to the topics covered in the class for Critical Issues in Business Management.
Read the background information and respond to the tasks below.
Commonwealth Trade in a Digital World
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented global economic crisis. It has induced a deep recession in several Commonwealth countries and in their major export markets, which has significantly affected Commonwealth countries’ global and intra-Commonwealth trade. Foreign direct investment inflows to Commonwealth countries have also taken a considerable hit. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on already vulnerable economies, societies and health care systems, with particularly severe effects on women, youth, the poor and the informally employed, could exacerbate existing challenges to inclusive growth in the Commonwealth and the pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, the devastating economic consequences of COVID-19, together with other global exigencies in recent years, mean that 2011–20201 will be a lost decade in terms of gains from trade for the global community, especially for Small States, least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This is disheartening because trade has helped lift millions of people from poverty to prosperity around the world and will be instrumental for combating the pandemic, reviving growth and achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets. While we need to be alert to the Pandemic’s long-term impact, we also need be attentive to sources of future growth including from the Commonwealth advantage.
The digital transformation has reduced the costs of engaging in international trade, facilitated the coordination of global value chains (GVCs), helped diffuse ideas and technologies, and connected a greater number of businesses and consumers globally. But even though it has never been easier to engage in international trade, the adoption of new business models has given rise to more complex international trade transactions and policy issues. In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, governments are facing new regulatory challenges, not just in managing issues arising from digital disruption, but also in ensuring that the opportunities and benefits from digital trade can be realised and shared inclusively.
While there is no single recognised and accepted definition of digital trade, there is a growing consensus that it encompasses digitally-enabled transactions of trade in goods and services that can either be digitally or physically delivered, and that involve consumers, firms, and governments. That is, while all forms of digital trade are enabled by digital technologies, not all digital trade is digitally delivered. For instance, digital trade also involves digitally enabled but physically delivered trade in goods and services such as the purchase of a book through an on-line marketplace, or booking a stay in an apartment through a matching application. In 2019 the OECD set out a conceptual framework for digital trade.
Underpinning digital trade is the movement of data. Data is not only a means of production, it is also an asset that can itself be traded, and a means through which GVCs are organised and services delivered. It also underpins physical trade less directly by enabling implementation of trade facilitation. Data is also at the core of new and rapidly growing service supply models such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and additive manufacturing.
It is important to assess how digitalisation is changing trade and the changing nature of digital trade, current and future barriers, and ideas to overcome them. The 2020 Future of Trade report identified three key trends at the intersection between technology and trade that would define the 2020s. These were Technology will facilitate goods trade by reducing costs and barriers; Technology will unlock new markets for growth; and Technology will disrupt global value chains. Trade tech will become part of our business vocabulary.
The Commonwealth’s digital trade in the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic was strong and growing. However, in almost all categories – digital goods, services, and e-commerce – trade flows within and outside the Commonwealth are concentrated in a few countries, mostly developed and Asian members, underscoring the need to bridge the digital divide between members. The rapid acceleration in adopting information and communication technologies (ICTs) during the pandemic and the prospect of greater digitalisation in the future could exacerbate this divide. Mapping the Commonwealth’s overall digital trade and assessing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on these flows provides a valuable window on how the trade landscape is changing.
Focus on Africa – the African Continental Free Trade Area
On New Year’s Day 2021 when the UK exited the world’s largest trading bloc of the EU, the largest free-trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries opened for business in Africa with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The new market, created under the AfCFTA agreement is estimated to be as large as 1.3 billion people across Africa, with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion with the potential of lifting up to 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. It is also expected to boost intra-African trade, promote industrialization, create job, and improve the competitiveness of African industries on the global stage. Moreover, if women’s sales could reach parity with men by 2025, the e-commerce sector could add nearly $15 billion to the African market by 2030.
Write a report in response to the following questions:
- Create a Padlet in response to the following tasks:
- What is the impact of COVID-19 on Commonwealth countries’ global and intra Commonwealth goods and services exports, and what are the prospects for trade recovery?
- Identify and evaluate the sources of future growth including from the Commonwealth advantage. Your response to this task should be of 800 words (or equivalent).
You may include text, diagrams and/or short video/audio files (i.e. recordings of yourself). Additional instructions regarding the use of Padlet will be available on Canvas.
- Write a report titled ‘Commonwealth trade, digital trade and change in Africa’ in response to the following tasks:
- Why is digital trade now more important than ever? What are its main trends, challenges and opportunities in the Commonwealth including the effects of COVID-19? (800 words)
- There has been much comment on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
However, what is its real significance, the current state of play and how transformative and inclusive can it be, especially for women? (800 words)
- Record a 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ in response to the following task:
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister is the current Chair of the Commonwealth and President of the G7. If you found yourself sharing an elevator with him for 60 seconds at the UN Headquarters, what would you suggest to him that the Commonwealth and the G7 can do to bolster and boost trade (especially from a sustainability perspective) we can all benefit and why?
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