ILO contributes to the opening session of Seminar on cooperative trade in Beijing, China

On November 28, the ILO COOP/SSE Manager Ms Simel Esim joined the ICA Seminar and Training Course on Cooperative Trade and Development at the China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE).

News | 30 November 2023
Ms Esim was asked to give remarks during the opening session of the seminar. Ms Esim suggested that cooperatives operate across various stages of supply chains. However, she added, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipe for supply chain integration of cooperatives. She noted that they generate incomes, create employment, advance formalization of the informal employment and help promote decent work particularly in the lower tiers of the supply chains, where informality and decent work deficits are most prominent.

By forming a cooperative, producers and workers can benefit from economies of scale, access inputs, share equipment and space, develop market linkages and increase their bargaining power with public and private sector actors, allowing them to advance toward decent work as cooperative members, she highlighted.

Ms Esim further pointed out some of the key challenges to better integration of cooperatives in supply chains including: concentration in segments of the supply chain with low productivity and high risk; limited access to infrastructure, financial resources and capacities; and lack of diversification in activities.

She mentioned the prominent role of cooperatives in fairtrade as large segments of agricultural producers of commodities such as coffee, bananas, sugar and other fairtrade goods are cooperatively organized.

She also pointed to cooperative-to-cooperative trade joint-ventures between consumers’ and producers’ cooperatives that can facilitate exports. However, she noted there are only a handful of such experiences which can benefit from scaling up and replication.

A report by the ACFSMC on the event is available here.