Chatham House rules preclude me from divulging too much, and the session was really an exploratory discussion on how to move forward, but it was very informative and we saw that the commitment to increasing levels of localisation - that is more shelf space for locally made products - is definitely there.
Our next step will be to engage the retailers in bi-lateral one-on-one sessions where their confidentiality can be protected and we can drill down on ways in which they can be assisted to overcome whatever challenges or impediments they face in order for them to implement localisation for different categories of products with a focus on import replacement and inclusivity programmes.
What everyone understood is that without supporting local producers, the potential for job losses increases, and impoverished consumers don't make good customers. Ultimately, the imperative to buy from local farmers, textile factories, etc, is in retailers’ own self-interest.
The retail value chain is complex and extensive and represents hundreds of thousands of jobs.