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New Minister integrates trade
AND development

Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, Mogens Jensen
Photo: Klavs Bo Christensen / POLFOTO

Many are content, whilst others remain sceptical when Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, in connection with the minister reshuffle on 3 February after the Socialist People’s Party resigned from the Government, announces that Denmark is to have a minister for both trade and development cooperation. “The wheels of development assistance are now to be firmly tightened to the vehicles of Danish firms”, the sceptics responded, whilst those who were pleased – including the new Minister, Mogens Jensen – emphasise that integrating the two areas more systematically could generate synergy for all parties, particularly developing countries.

2014 is characterised by the new mantra that the private sector must find new ways to involve itself actively in the efforts to foster development and growth. It is a global trend, but one which is perhaps particularly evident in Denmark with the new dual portfolio minister; with the new mission network structure and new embassies in the new emerging economies; with the export strategy in May, “More trade. More jobs”; with the minister’s six-point plan in September for widened Danish support aimed at promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR); and with the foreign policy vision paper in December, “More Denmark in the World”, as well as a number of other initiatives.

Particularly the strategy from May, “More trade. More jobs”, reflects a new approach. It underlines that all developing countries, not just the new emerging economies, want to tap into Danish competencies, Danish knowledge and experience within areas such as environment, energy, water and health. The strategy also states quite openly the potential for generating increased Danish exports and Danish jobs, while emphasising that the demand from external partners is to be the driving force.

The strategy also emphasises that there is a demand in developing countries for the knowledge and competencies of the Danish public authorities. Therefore, the strategy is followed up with a specific plan on “public authority partnerships” between Danish ministries and the corresponding authorities in several developing countries, to which also special Danish “growth counsellors” are posted – financed through the development assistance frame.

A critical evaluation of Danida business instruments in November questions the effects of the Danida business instruments on long-term development. Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation Mogens Jensen temporarily suspendend the Danida Business Partnerships and Business Project Development facilities emphasising that the objective of involving the Danish private sector in development cooperation remains. The main concern is whether the programme is the most effective tool available and whether it complies with EU rules and regulations. Therefore, he also sets in motion the development of new and more up-to-date instruments in the field.