Towards a new policy for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

Development Policy,Knowledge brokering17 Jun 2022Yannicke Goris, Martha Kapazoglou

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, is developing a new policy document. While the general direction is determined by the coalition agreement and current events, the Minister still has numerous decisions to make about the details of her upcoming policy. To inform these decisions, in March 2022 an online consultation was launched, allowing all those interested to provide their input for the new policy. After the consultation was closed, The Broker was commissioned to bring all contributions together in a synthesis report. This report is now available for download!

The online consultation served to gather inspiration from all relevant stakeholders. Representatives from the private sector, knowledge institutes, civil society organisations, consultancy firms, and a collection of others rose to the task: Over 230 participants responded to the consultation. To present the Minister with a document that is both concise and does justice to the breadth and depth of the answers provided by the participants, The Broker was asked to formulate a synthesis report, which you can download here!

Our brokers Martha Kapazoglou and Yannicke Goris have analysed and brought together the many contributions in a report that centres around the 10 questions that constituted the consultation. Their analysis also brought to light a number of cross-cutting issues that were raised by many respondents and throughout the consultation.

In the textbox below you can find the key take-aways from the consultation, in which the 6 cross-cutting issues are also incorporated. We sincerely hope that the synthesis aptly captures the great input by all contributors. Additionally, we are eager to read the new policy document and find out how the contributions have been incorporated!

Key take-aways of the consultation

  • The comparatively greater focus on foreign trade and the private sector over development cooperation is cause for concern among respondents. They urge the Minister to formulate a balanced policy and look for synergies between the two elements.
  • Knowledge sharing, co-creation and learning trajectories, especially among global North and South-based stakeholders, are essential in ensuring that interventions are evidence-based, successful approaches are scaled up, and mistakes are not repeated.
  • Forging an enabling environment – as characterised by the rule of law, good governance and social cohesion – is identified as a prerequisite for realising sustainable development, especially in fragile, conflict-affected states.
  • Gender equality and SRHR are highlighted as key cross-cutting issues: progress in these thematic areas can help achieve all the SDGs and tackle pressing social and environmental issues.
  • Trade is regarded as a promising catalyst for inclusive and sustainable development if comprehensive CSR and due diligence legislation is applied. Then, trade (agreements) can be a ‘force for good’.
  • Localisation and ‘shifting the power’ are regarded as essential for achieving systemic change and sustainable impact. Operationalisation of these concepts is, however, lagging behind and warrants great attention in the upcoming policy.
  • Achieving systemic change is a long-term process, which subsequently requires a long-term approach. The new policy should have a built-in sustainability approach and a responsible exit strategy which ensures that gains are not easily undermined.
  • Policy coherence is key to achieve sustainable development. Strategies to realise such coherence include 1) adopting nexus approaches; 2) placing the SDGs centre-stage and rigorously applying the SDG-test; 3) paying more attention to the role of embassies at country-level in strengthening coherence; 4) implementing a comprehensive agenda for responsible business conduct.

The synthesis report was also published on the official website of the online consultation: