Comercio y Pobreza en Latinoamérica (COPLA) is a 2-year project funded by the UK Department for International Development. It will investigate how trade and trade-related policies can be used to harness the potential of trade for poor people and minimise its negative impacts. It will also improve the dialogue on trade policy and poverty between policymakers and those who represent the poor. Research, dialogue and capacity building will focus on the links between trade, poverty and social exclusion (gender, indigenous peoples, lagging regions), as well as ways in which small and medium enterprises can better take advantage of new market opportunities. This project goes beyond research. Improving understanding of the relationship between research-informed evidence, policy making processes and practice, and sharing this new knowledge is a central part of our approach.
Latin America is a region with significant levels of persistent poverty and high inequality. Around 57 million people continue to suffer extreme poverty and some 130 million have incomes below US$2 per day.
Larger trade flows offer the opportunity to increase the rate of poverty reduction directly, through increased job opportunities and reduced cost of consumption, and indirectly, by accelerating growth. However, in Latin America, increased international trade flows, brought about by liberalisation, have yet to contribute significantly to faster growth and poverty reduction.
Experts increasingly recognise that for the poor to benefit from trade liberalisation, complementary social and economic policies linked to trade are needed to help the poor take advantage of new opportunities, and to protect and help the most vulnerable. But although there is a wealth of information on trade and poverty, it is spread around many organisations and people. COPLA aims to be a first-stop for information on the issues. Our website will provide links to other research on trade, poverty and social exclusion as well as present new country-specific evidence about, and results from, our own programme.
How well stakeholders and policymakers are able to organise themselves to engage in constructive, evidence-based dialogue on appropriate policy measures is also key. Communications and capacity building will therefore be central components of this project.
COPLA will seek to support the adoption of policies that promote the reduction of poverty and inequality through trade and trade-related policies. We will combine research and communication to improve understanding of how pro-poor trade considerations can inform trade and trade-related policies, and how discussions on trade, poverty and social exclusion issues can be made more evidence based, inclusive, and constructive. Sharing experiences and lessons will be a central part of the project.
By supporting the integration of pro-poor perspectives into trade and related policies, the programme will facilitate opportunities to reduce poverty through trade, benefiting potentially the 130 million people that currently live in poverty in the region.
Principal Research Fellow