Investment promotion agencies (IPAs) from Thailand, Ghana and Brazil yesterday received awards for programmes that promote linkages between international companies and domestic enterprises. The prizes were handed out on the opening day of the 2004 Annual Conference of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), which concludes today in São Paulo.
The WAIPA award for Best Business Linkage Programme went to the Thailand Board of Investment for its Industrial Linkage Development Unit. Since its inception in 1992, this cross-sectoral matchmaking programme has helped hundreds of Thai SMEs establish business links with transnational corporations (TNCs) operating in Thailand and overseas.
The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre won the WAIPA special award for the Business Linkage Programme with an Extraordinary Development Impact for its Oil Palm Out-grower Scheme, which is being carried out in partnership with Unilever Ghana Ltd. and several Ghanaian public institutions. The scheme links 3,000 small oil palm out-growers with margarine and soap factories and helps these farmers improve production.
The WAIPA special award for the Best Business Linkage Programme of a Sub-national IPA went to the Industrial Development Institute of Minas Gerais (INDI) in Brazil for the “Buy in Minas” programme, which was developed jointly with Italian carmaker FIAT 15 years ago. "Buy in Minais" has dramatically increased local auto-part supplies to the FIAT factory in this Brazilian state and created thousands of new jobs.
UNCTAD selected the winning linkage programmes based on a survey of 123 IPAs from 109 countries. The survey is part of a study that looks at formal and informal efforts by IPAs to promote and facilitate business linkages between TNC affiliates and local SMEs. These linkages help small firms to acquire technology, management know-how and market access and assist TNCs in focusing on core operations.
This year’s WAIPA Conference is being held in parallel with UNCTAD XI at the Anhembi Convention Center in São Paulo. Luiz Fernando Furlan, Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Trade, opened the conference. For two days, business leaders, high-level government officials, representatives of international organizations and the media discussed global prospects for foreign direct investment, national and sector-specific investment promotion strategies and the promotion of business linkages. A Town Hall Meeting debated whether outward FDI creates employment or sends jobs overseas.
The WAIPA Conference is the largest annual international gathering of investment promotion officials. Participating in the conference were representatives of WAIPA’s 165 member agencies, business people, government officials and representatives of civil society.