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Overcome tensions between "Buy Local" policies and campaigns and the wider CACCI view of liberal trade and investment

Policy statement by Joshua Tan, Policy & International Relations Advisor, for the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Issue date


To varying degrees, Chambers of Commerce (Chambers) have advocated for the liberalisation of international trade as well as supported Buy Local policies in their respective countries. This is for a good reason, because buying locally supports local business directly, while liberal trade allows businesses to access overseas markets freely and fairly.

These two concepts may seem conflicting, but Chambers in the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce & Industry (CACCI) network can and should be supportive of both. Business has the right to operate competitively in their own home market and while bringing free-to-reach opportunities in overseas markets.
This paper argues that the underlying concepts of Buy Local and liberalised trade are representative of two different stages of a business’s life-cycle. The Buy Local campaigns support small businesses at the beginning, while supporting liberal trade helps local businesses expand and reach overseas markets.

However, there is another juxtaposing issue that should be considered – the responsibility of business to take climate action. Chambers and businesses need to actively respond to consumer concerns about business impacts on our climate and environment. Through the 2019 Chambers Climate Coalition, of which 2,100 Chambers have signed, we have a mandate and commitment to act.
Given the commitments made under the Chamber Climate Coalition, we ought to consider environmental impacts and climate action alongside tensions between Buy Local and liberal trade and investment.


Since the founding of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995, the world of international trade has entered an era of liberalised trade on a scale past generations have never experienced. Studies have shown that the introduction of the WTO has boosted trade between nations while barriers to international trade have decreased.

Countries now sign bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements (FTAs), further liberalising the trade of goods and services across borders. This benefits both businesses and the end-consumer, allowing for greater competition for businesses to compete and grow, accessibility to goods and services that wouldn’t be available domestically, and allowing for more competitive pricing to the benefit of consumers...

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