In search of solutions to allow Colombia to take full advantage of the increasing globalization of international markets, Universidad de la Sabana, a Vi affiliate university member, chose “Multi-level integration: Catalyst for development” as the topic of its fourth biannual congress on international business management, held in Bogota April 26-27.
Participation in international trade has been high on the priority list of Colombia, aiming to reach a high level of competitiveness in the global and regional economy, attract foreign investment, and use its economic and human resources potential to improve the well-being of its population. Additionally, the recent entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States has sparked the interest of civil society and academics in finding ways to translate this agreement into trade and development benefits.
The importance of trade for the country’s economy is also reflected in the increasing number of university programmes endeavouring to educate future global entrepreneurs well versed in topical international trade issues.
The congress was part of the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of such a programme – the International Business Administration programme at the International School of Economic and Management Sciences of the Universidad de la Sabana. More than 200 participants signed up for the conference, and some of the sessions attracted more than 300 guests.
Taking one step further the approach to regional cooperation put forward by UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2007, the Colombian congress aimed to address global and regional integration in its numerous dimensions, including those related to trade, finance, transport infrastructure, supply chains, and culture.
The interventions by international, regional and national experts from government, academia, the business sector and international organizations, gave participants the opportunity to assess experiences with various forms of integration in different countries, and discuss how the respective strengths, cultures and markets could be brought together to achieve mutually beneficial results.
Among the topics covered were trade/economic integration, regional integration, integration of financial services, integration of markets, integration in transport, integration of enterprises, and cultural integration.
As part of the first day’s programme, Luisa Rodriguez of UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities contributed a presentation on economic integration and development.
Drawing on UNCTAD’s research in the areas of globalization, trade, services, investment and enterprise development, she introduced a conceptual framework for economic integration, examined internal and external determinants which influence the capacity of countries to use trade opening and integration as a driver for development, and concluded by stressing the need for a coherent design and implementation of government policies in different areas (macroeconomics, productive capacities, competitiveness, trade, etc.) for the purpose of development.
Rodriguez also underlined the importance of the government and the business sector working hand in hand.
“When you speak about opportunities for development, there is a limit to what the government alone can do. Potential benefits from agreements negotiated by the government will not materialize if the business people do not follow to take advantage of the opportunities. There is therefore a need to create a dynamic that will involve the private sector,” she said.