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EU CAUTIONS LOCAL FIRMS ON ETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES

By Kwanele Dhladhla | 2021-06-12

Companies that trade with the European Union (EU) need to get their ducks in a row in preparedness for stricter conditions likely to be attached in trading terms.

This will be in terms of sustainable and ethical business practices. EU Ambassador to Eswatini Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones has explained that the EU’s recovery plan aims to “Build Back Better,” making Europe greener, more digital, more resilient and more sustainable.

Therefore, she said this would have an impact in their partner countries, as the EU would set a higher bar in terms of sustainable and ethical business practices.

“Business firms that engage in trade with the EU will have to do it responsibly and leave a positive impact on the lives of employees and their communities,” Aragones advised during the official opening ceremony at Hilton Garden Inn of the State Business Relation two-day workshop jointly organised by the European Union, the Government of Eswatini, the private sector of Eswatini and implementing partner for the project, International Trade Centre (ITC).

Aragones mentioned that for more than 50 years now, the EU had been the most important development partner of the Eswatini, and the business relation workshop was another clear sign of the EU’s commitment to developing trade and development in this kingdom.

She pointed out the gathering intended to be the start of a new era in the relations between the local public and the private sector.

She said these sectors were intrinsically connected and during the workshop, they would work on how they could collaborate in order to achieve inclusive growth and economic transformation.

Aragones said as the world enters the second year with the COVID-19 pandemic, they were fully aware of the impact this has had around the world.

Governments have had to recalibrate plans and policies in order to adapt to the changing socio-economic and political conditions. She stated that this was done not only for the health of their populations but to ensure that pathways for economic security and prosperity were still possible.

“This pandemic has been very hard, especially for MSMEs, smallholder farmers and informal traders and this has made it even more urgent to address the bottlenecks that would hinder inclusive economic growth in Eswatini,” Aragones noted.

Head of Inclusive Agribusiness and Trade at (ITC) Herman Manson strongly emphasised on the importance of improving competitiveness and inclusive development going forward.

He said a bottom up approach would be ideal to achieve sustainable growth and sufficient job creation. He recommended that diversification, value addition, pursuing different markets and Public, Private Partnerships would be some of the key strategies that could be used to turn the economy around for the better.

Aragones added that considering the challenges ahead, collaboration and collective action by the private sector, policymakers and institutions remains the most effective and possibly the only way forward.

She explained that this principle meant seeking sustainable, long- term inclusive solutions over simple short-term “quick wins” for some.

“The principle also means prioritising collective interest over individual interest and minimising the trade-offs as well as working together towards a common goal on a basis of trust while fostering productive and commercial alliances that are viable for all.

“Regular, open, structured, timely and detailed exchanges of information between state and business are crucial in order to make a correct diagnostics of the private sector constrains thus helping government in the process of making the necessary interventions that aim to improve the country’s business environment,” she said.

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