The turbulent times which we have faced from 2008 onwards have raised once again the question of the troubled relationship between “states” and “markets”,1 which has been – because of the stable economic development of the international community – (more or less) ignored for the last twenty years. Furthermore, the result of the current crisis is not only the reopening of the debate on the “states” vs. “markets” relationship, but also the growing expectation of what “states” should do to help “markets” to perform better. In this framework, commercial diplomacy2 is becoming one of the constitutive elements of international economic relations.
However, this role of commercial diplomacy is not a novelty. Starting long before 1945, history offers us many examples of how commercial diplomacy was understood as an important issue for conducting inter-“state” economic relations; in some cases it also offered grounds for establishing peaceful relations among “nations”. Although the role and the aim of commercial diplomacy have changed through centuries, its focus still remains the same: being a tool for granting economic prosperity and citizens’ welfare. Some historical cases (such as the Cobden-Chevalier Agreement, 1860) are prime examples how the role of commercial diplomacy was crucial for the economic development of nations in that time.
The instabilities of the first half of the 20th century were the basis for the establishment of post-WWII world order, in which commercial diplomacy (officially) had no domicile. The liberal structure introduced by the Bretton Woods system formally abandoned the role of the state (i.e. commercial diplomacy as an instrument of state) and replaced it with market liberalisation. But the reality differed from theoretical presumptions. Even though the liberal economic order opted for non-intervention and the free market as a warrantor of economic prosperity, states – in their international economic relations – continued to use the instrument of commercial diplomacy, as it had been proved that it is an effective and invisible tool for enhancement of international trade.
After the dissolution of the Communist Bloc, commercial diplomacy became an even more relevant instrument, as the markets of the ex-communist countries applying economic and non-economic barriers were uncompetitive and under-developed. Western/capitalist countries used commercial diplomacy in two ways: as a market-entry strategy and as an instrument for facilitating their activities in ex-communist markets. This period lasted for almost twenty years and was interrupted by the onset of the current economic crisis, when the idea of markets’ liberalisation was replaced by the idea of protectionism of national economies.
After the outbreak of the current economic crisis, the debate on the role and possibilities of commercial diplomacy re-emerged. Within these debates, economic and political stakeholders advocated that “now is the time” to start using commercial diplomacy, and that commercial diplomacy should apply its tools to roll back the tide of rising protectionism. However, at the same time, when enterprises are advocating increased use of commercial diplomacy in most of the states, austerity measures call for decrease/shutdown of certain public sector activities. In some cases these measures have also been applied in the field of commercial diplomacy, diminishing its human and financial resources potential. On the other hand there are some examples of when national governments have opted for the strengthening of national commercial diplomacy.
1 By “states” we mean the official decision-making and power executing activities of public dominance, while “markets” are a synonym for private/entrepreneurship activities for private profits.
2 We define commercial diplomacy as “using diplomatic tools to help domestic enterprises in foreign markets” (see Udovič, 2011: 359). For more on the topic, see: Bayne and Woolcock (2012); Coolsaet (2004); De la Carriere (1998); Justinek (2009; 2011, 2012); Kostecki and Naray (2007); Lee and Hudson (2004); Lee and Ruël (2012); Naray (2008); Naray (2009); Naray (2010); Naray (2011); Okano-Heijmans (2011); Rana (2002); Ruël and Zuidema (2012); Saner, Yiu and Søndergaard (2000); Saner and Yiu (2003); Strange and Stopford (1991); Strange (1992); Udovič (2007; 2009).
Theoretical, research and case study papers are welcome. The purpose of this special issue is to explore and analyse changes:
- occurred/ing in the time of the current economic crisis or because of it in the structure of national commercial diplomacy
- in public debate about national commercial diplomacy, its responsibilities, capabilities, activities and presence to achieve economic gains or welfare in the time of the current economic crisis
- in regard of cost-effectiveness and efficiency of national commercial diplomacy (the relationship between inputs for commercial diplomacy and its outputs) in the time of the current economic crisis
- in the field of work of national commercial diplomacy (changes in industrial policy, export or FDI promotion, etc.) during the time of the current economic crisis
- in the geographic orientation of national commercial diplomacy due to the current economic crisis
- in the segmentation of markets and the types of activities performed in different markets due to the current economic crisis
Submission of one page abstracts by email (max. 500 words): 1 April, 2013
Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 15 May, 2013
Submission (online) of full papers following acceptance of abstracts: 1 October, 2013
Notification of acceptance, refusal or revisions required for full papers: 15 November, 2013
Submission of accepted and revised final papers: 15 December, 2013