Creating Access for Growth
On a recent trip abroad, I saw beautiful furniture pieces that stood out for the precision of their construction. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they were made in Cebu, Philippines. Cebu is a region full of skilled craftsmen whose works are now being appreciated in houses worldwide.
At a time when trade is already driving world economies, it is still exciting that individuals —particularly those from far-flung and remote locations — are now capable of bringing their work to the world stage. This improves livelihood opportunities on a small scale, but factor in the multiplier effect as it extends across communities, and it can now directly impact the economy.
Here, one element is crucial: Access.
What is access? It is the bridge that lets you move into new territories, or the internet connection that enables you to reach world markets from a single location. In short, access facilitates increased interaction and trade among individuals, businesses, and countries. While markets represent platforms for transactions to take place, access provides the means for markets to operate.
FedEx commissioned a study entitled Measuring Access – the Access Index™, to determine quantitative impact and provide insight into the significance of access on a national level. A total of 75 countries were evaluated based on physical and information access. The Index revealed four interesting insights: physical and information access are closely aligned; it enables faster economic growth; greater access relates strongly to higher levels of income; and it is critical for economic survival and growth.
To illustrate, the top ten countries in the Access Index™ had an average GDP per capita growth rate of 22.6% over a decade, whereas growth among the bottom ten was only 14.1% over the same period. All of the progressive nations encouraged international trade and sought to increase infrastructure spending every year, proving that boosting access directly translates to economic growth.
In the years to come, access will become even more vital. As markets grow and new free trade agreements are forged, businesses will thrive or stagnate depending on their level of access to raw materials, machinery, and components, technology, or finance. Amidst the changes in the global marketplace, access will enable any country to increasingly participate in the opportunities that this will bring, enhance its economy, and improve people’s overall standards of living.