Tag Archives: informal sector

Trade Facilitation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership


By Michael Merriam

In recent months, research on global trade has been divided over the effects of a long negotiated trade partnership for twelve Pacific Rim nations. Signed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is, by GDP of signatory nations, the largest free trade pact in the history of the world. With many standards and provisions, the agreement’s depths contain articles that deal with a variety of subjects ranging from intellectual property rights to environmental protection. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, there will be 18,000 different taxes on American products that will be reduced or eliminated by adoption of the TPP. Beyond the benefits to the United States, the increased trade promotion and tariff reduction of the TPP promises to advance job creation, good governance, trade competitiveness, and stable economic growth on both sides of the pacific. Most significantly, the TPP incorporates greater trade facilitation requirements than past regional trade pacts, a hopeful sign for the future of global trade.

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Crunch Time for Egypt’s Economic Reform

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

This blog originally appeared in Arabic on CIPE-Arabia.org

Indeed, Egypt is going through a very difficult period. The current economic situation is intrinsically linked to the accumulated weight of poorly addressed economic challenges over the past forty years.  Economic problems were either ignored, or in other instances, their root causes were not addressed in a profound and decisive manner.  On the other hand, undoubtedly, Egypt has all the capabilities to become one of the largest world economies.  This potential has been noted in reports of financial institutions such as the 2010 Citibank report.

The current difficulty stems from fact that there is no alternative to undertaking a comprehensive economic reform program. However, in the short run all Egyptians- the wealthy, the poor, and the middle class, will have to bear the brunt of these reforms. That said, with sound management of reform program, Egyptians will enjoy the fruits of reform in the medium to long run.

There can be no doubt that enacting economic reforms is crucial for Egypt’s progress. Thus, “No,” is my final unequivocal answer to the most critical question of whether Egypt has other alternatives to entering into the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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What Good is Economics as a Science, if Not Based on Field Studies?


By Dr. Reem Abdel Haliem

This post originally appeared in Arabic on the CIPE Arabia blog.

I currently work with CIPE partner the Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) on a study to bring Egypt’s informal sector into the formal one. Since there are number of studies on this topic, FEDA chose to focus its study on producing a guide – more of a roadmap – that outlines practical steps to facilitating the informal sector’s formalization.

A series of focus groups based on a robust methodology was a must to achieve sound findings and to draw evidence-based conclusions. Through those focus groups, we formed a logical and comprehensive understanding of the problems that the formal sector faces, so to grasp the disincentives that make the idea of formalizing unattractive to the informal sector. Formal sector operators face these problems almost on a daily basis and with a variety of local and national government authorities. This understanding could not be reached through a typical literature review.

Through my experience in the focus groups and with drafting this roadmap, it became clear to me that with the right field research tools, grasping the on-the-ground reality makes policy recommendations more accurate and relevant to addressing the stakeholders’ needs and, as such, makes these recommendations of higher value to the state and the general public.

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CIPE Arabia: Expert Interview with Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab

Ahmed_Fikry_Abdel_WahabThis post originally appeared at CIPE-Arabia in Arabic.

In a brief interview with CIPE-Arabia, Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab shared some of his thoughts on the pervasive informal sector in Egypt.  His concerns center on the potentially negative consequences a large informal sector has on competitiveness, market values, and norms and quality of products.  Abdel Wahab explained that while one might not necessarily describe the competition between the formal and informal sector as dishonest, it could easily be described as unfair.

Unlike informal businesses, formal enterprises have higher costs, which are reflected in the pricing of their products.  In order to be able to compete, some enterprises compromise on the quality of their products thereby creating negative impacts on the industry and the overall market, as well as undermining consumer rights and the competiveness of the Egyptian products in the global market.  He acknowledged that informal businesses suffer from marginalization, lack of access to credit, and meager opportunities for training, advancement and business relations. Abdel Wahab also noted problems faced by informal enterprises in terms of limited market size, attributing this issue to the quality of their products, which are often not fit for export because they do not meet the minimal quality standards.  As a result, all these factors create unfair conditions with consequences for both sectors as they generate unhealthy competition, negatively impact the market, and undermine the foundations of industry and its values and norms.

Following is a summary of the main points raised by Abdel Wahab during the discussion.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #19: Former CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan on the Role of the Private Sector in Democracy and CIPE’s Evolution

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest John D. Sullivan right).

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest John D. Sullivan (right).

Former Executive Director of CIPE John D. Sullivan discusses how the private sector and a free market economy are essential for a thriving democracy and the role CIPE plays working with private sector partners to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. Sullivan recalls what led to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy and its core institutes, including CIPE, and how it was decided that the private sector needed to be represented in the “democracy program” that began under former President Ronald Reagan. Sullivan also discusses the important relationship CIPE developed with the Russian Chamber of Commerce, and the impact of the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto on CIPE’s programs.

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Global Enterprise Registration: A Window on Starting a Business

global e registration

In many countries the procedures to register a business can be confusing, costly, and discouraging. Although the Doing Business index has recorded increased efficiencies over the years, registering a business can still be a daunting process, especially for smaller firms and firms located outside major cities. In Brazilian cities, for example, it takes on average 129 days to start a business, according to a study by Endeavor.

The new site Global Enterprise Registration aims to bring greater awareness and transparency to registration processes and to simplify the registration experience for entrepreneurs. A project of UNCTAD, Global Enterprise Registration combines access to information portals, which provide instructions and forms, and online single windows, which consolidate applications and payments for mandatory registrations. In addition, the site’s user feedback tool shows where governments can improve the user experience.

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Small Business in Egypt: the Heavy Burden of Following the Rules

Sayed Diab makes his living providing sound systems and digital services for events like this CIPE discussion. (Photo: CIPE Egypt)

By Ahmed ElSawy

This post originally appeared in Arabic on the CIPE Arabia blog.

Sayed Diab spent 26 years of his life working as a technician supplying organizations with sound systems and related digital services for their events and conferences. Six years ago he started his own business in this field and has since made his living providing his services to CIPE, other NGOs, business associations, and think tanks in Cairo, Egypt.

Diab recently sat down for an interview about his experiences running his own business in Egypt and what he has learned as a small business owner from the many CIPE events and discussions he has worked on.

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