At the WTO in Geneva Reply

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Prof Derick Blaauw in action at the WTO – trade policy and poverty reduction

Last week Prof Derick Blaauw, Drs Anmar Pretorius and Sonja Grater accompanied the NWU’s WTO chair holder (Prof Wilma Viviers) to the 16th WTO Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual Public Forum is the WTO’s flagship event that provides a unique platform for heads of state and leading global business people, academics and non-governmental organisations to come together and discuss some of the major trade and development issues of the day. Over 1,500 participants attend the Forum each year. The 2016 Forum was an opportunity to discuss how a wider range of individuals and businesses can participate in the trading system and how WTO rules can help to ensure everyone benefits from trade. The panel of speakers at the opening plenary session of the WTO’s 2016 Public Forum emphasized that an agenda for inclusive trade, focusing on the needs of small business owners and more vulnerable sectors of society, will be essential for ensuring continued public support for open markets.

The session on the 27th of September organised by the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Co-operation (ITTC) Economic Research and Statistics Division fitted into this theme. The session was framed as: WTO Trade policy and poverty reduction: cases studies from WTO Chairs. The papers and case studies are part of broader research collaboration between the WTO and the World Bank. Here Derick Blaauw represented a paper entitled: “The impact of the recycling industry on poverty levels in South Africa’s informal economy: a case study of waste pickers in Pretoria“.

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Locked and loaded Reply

Michelle Groenewald reports from the frontline at APORDE.

Allow me to quote a fellow classmate from the African Programme on Rethinking Development Economics (APORDE) that I recently attended: “I never would have believed that in a single day you can have your whole world turned upside down”. This program reels you in with the promise of broadening your perspectives on Development Economics and a couple of months later, there lying in your inbox, is an all too innocent email congratulating you on your successful application. What follows is a 2 week course on not broadening, but blowing wide open, all that you had held to be ‘true’. You will be taught to stab and gut, jab and cut away at the Market you had been told was your greatest ally, only to leave it panting and exhausted in a misshapen form, more foe than friend. Here you will learn that ‘free trade’ as the battle tune to which all must march if they are to develop, could rather beat to perhaps the protectionist cadence of a more often untold success story. Few would have considered that perhaps ‘getting prices wrong’ is the way to actually get them right, when the world has undeniably told you otherwise. Could it be that to utter industrial policy, with the state as a key player, is not as blasphemous as had been drilled into the economic cavalry?

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Seminar on informality and inclusive growth Reply

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Last week Me. Carli Bezuidenhout received guests at our seminar series to speak about informality and inclusive growth. Kezia Lilenstein and Morne Oosthuizen of the DPRU visited and Christina Fernandez joined via Skype.

This research seeks to explore the relationship between informality and inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. South Africans typically hold one of two opposing views on the informal sector. The first is that informality should be encouraged as an under-utilised source of new employment; the second is that it should be discouraged as an inferior source of employment. The central research question is therefore: “Do informal labour markets promote or constrain inclusive growth?” In order to examine the hypotheses, they use three different methodologies. Firstly, they undertake a regional evidence synthesis examining literature and case studies from the sub-Saharan Africa region. Secondly, they expand on the South African case study and examine the nature of transitions within the labour market. Thirdly, they examine to what extent income shocks may impact the likelihood of engagement within the informal sector.

You can download the regional evidence paper here.

Ethics in research and social justice on curb side labour markets in East London Reply

Prof Derick Blaauw reports from the field:

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From 13 to 16 September 2016 Derick Blaauw joined Prof Rinie Schenck of the Department of Social Work at UWC in East London where fieldwork continued on their NRF funded joint research project on day labourers in South Africa. They were joined by 6 field workers, recruited from graduates of the Department of Social work at NMMU and the University of Fort Hare as well as the University of the Western Cape. The Tuesday was spent on training and fieldwork commenced on the Wednesday. More than 150 interviews were held with day labourers across the city during the week. The fieldwork itself brought important ethical issues as well as the theme of social justice to the fore.

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