"Trade and aid are two sides of the same coin," says Aid and Foreign Trade Minister Johan Forssell (M) (right in picture). However, the Africa groups' secretary general Louise Lindfors (on the left in the picture) is worried that aid will become a subgroup of trade issues. Photo: FUF.


Trade and aid: "Returns don't always come in the form of money"

Earlier this year, the government presented the changes to be made in aid policy - and a central part is to work more closely with trade and aid. This focus has väckt strong reactions, not least within civil societyället.
- Man cannot believe that there will be a market economy model that seamlessly går to apply to development cooperation, sägst Louise Lindfors, general secretary at Athe free food groups.

At åAt the turn of the year, the government presented its reform agenda, which is designed to ensure that Swedish aidånd is “focused, relevant, efficient and transparent". According to the government, part of this means establishing synergies between trade and wildlifeån.d. Through an active trade exchange, Swedish investments and a functioning market economy, the government believes that it should carry out more long-term work for increased prosperity in low-income countries. The question of how this will look in practice was repeatedly discussed during Almedal Week.

Johan Forssell (M): "Trade has the opportunity to build prosperity"

Sweden's minister for aid and foreign trade, Johan Forssell (M), was on site in Almedalen and in a interview with FUF he believes that in the past there has been an outdated separation between aid and trade. While beastånd can form part of the fight against poverty, trade has the opportunity to build wealthånd – which måste be målet with the work carried out under bistånd's password, according to Johan Forssell.

- Wherever I go anywhere in the world, representatives of governments say roughly that "aid is good but what we want above all is investment. We want more real jobs in our country so we can create our own future", says he.

In an interview with Dagens Industri Johan Forssell explains how the investment in trade and aid means a historic modernization of Swedish aid policy. Now shall Swedish companies' goods and expertise become subject to export and a way to contribute to growth in the recipient countries - which he believes marks a shift from an aid that has only been about giving.

"Has worked for a long time on the rapprochement between trade and aid"

Although synergies between trade and bistånd to a large extent has fått front the government's plan for a reformed and more effective aidånd, others believe that this is not completely new within development cooperation - neither in Sweden nor abroad. This was highlighted, among others, by Christina Hartler, head of the unit for thematic support Page, During a seminar organized by Kommerskollegium and Sida during the Almedal Week. Hon ofspoke that båda arrangementorer has worked lmeadow with nthe sleeve between trade and beastånd – for example with trade-related efforts in Africa, training in trade policy and at EU level with the African Free Trade Agreement.

ÄVen Lennart Wohlgemuth, assistantånds expert and board member of FUF, believes to act both have one historical and contemporary of the in beastånd policy. He believes that there is essentially no problem with creating synergies between trade and aid, but that the focus should be on being anchored in the recipient countries and their interests - regardless of whether the financing is private or public, through regular aid or trade.

- Therefore, Swedish competence development and public education are needed in the area, which is compromised when the reform also includes reduced grants for research in development issues, says Lennart Wohlgemuth.

"Civil society needs a seat at the table in discussions about development cooperation"

Recently, 104 aid organizations came together to a written summons addressed to Johan Forssell. The organizations aftergade, among other things, a written formulation of how the government's work with the aid reform should look in the futurever, dincluding how the government wants to sayChristmasthat the trade carried on is favorable for local businessåincomeducks. The organizations also highlighted that the positive effects that can be achieved from trade with low-income countries rarely reach the very poorest in the countries.

One of the organizations that has signed the petition is the African groups. Louise Lindfors, the Africa groups' secretary general, and several other civil society organizations are worried about to beaståThe group will become like a subgroup in tradeåGorna. Although there are positive examples, there are also cases where trade promotion models have led to the loss of important values ​​linked to human rights and civil society, says Louise Lindfors. She also emphasizes that development cooperation is an investment that takes place in the longer term, and that the return does not always come in the form of money.

- Om you bet onå småthe independence of large-scale farmers through a civil society organization in southern Africa, so får you mass vis it. You build hållability, resilience in society and resistanceåresilience against climate disasters - but there is no business aspect to it all. On the contrary, it may be about strengthening local actors in order to want to behindpractice buying things from noiserre företag, says Louise Lindfors.

She gives an example fromån a local mine in Moçambique däis a multinational company has came in and bought gas deposits, which has broke the local infrastructure. This in turn has generated that 750 mannies is on the run from the area. In this case there was no synergy between bistånd and trade. Fear that dämpa that kind of negative consequences sto eatvs the fact that civil societyrather are involved and can manage local wills around investments and projects that äis most relevant to the population.

- Man cannot believe that there will be a market economy model that seamlessly går to apply to development cooperation, saygives Louise Lindfors. 

What would you advise the government to keep in mind when designing the reform agenda?

- The importance of not forgetting civil society in its own right. Man will not establish the sought-after synergies and thereby potentially make more money without the insights of civil society. On the other hand, you will perhaps make better trade policy decisions because that sphere is dependent on the knowledge of civil society, she says. 

OECD-DAC views on trade and aid

OECD Committee on Aid, Development Assistance Committee (DAC), has guidelines and criteria for what counts as development aid. Poverty reduction must be the main objective when trade and aid are combined. If it does not benefit a large part of the most economically and socially vulnerable groups, it can be questioned whether trade can fulfill the aid's purpose. 

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