Magazine article International Trade Forum

ITC in Action

Magazine article International Trade Forum

ITC in Action

Article excerpt

ITC plays a significant role in building capacity towards the export of creative products, particularly crafts, from developing and transition countries. ITC's assistance focuses on facilitating market access through new technologies and streamlining supply chains; supporting the creative sector by promoting trade opportunities and enhancing export competitiveness; as well as by encouraging the integration of the cultural dimension into national trade development policies.

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MONGOLIAN FELT FASHION ACCESORIES ON THE WORLD MARKET

The success of ITC's Export-led Poverty Reduction Programme (EPRP) project in Mongolia is paving the way for the country's wool producers to capitalize on tourists' demand for felt products and succeed in overseas markets.

As Mongolia boasts more than 24 million head of livestock and 10.6 million sheep, the processing and export of wool and felted fashion presented opportunities to generate income and create employment for poor nomadic and urban communities. In collaboration with the Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM), EPRP launched a project in late 2004 aimed at improving the livelihoods of 260 beneficiaries, 90 per cent of whom were women, through the organization of a cooperative union of ten producer groups in the provinces of Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and Selenge. As a result of the growing flux of international tourists to Mongolia over the past decade, reaching 440,000 in 2008, the union opened the Tsagaan Alt Wool Shop in Ulaanbaatar.

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Innovative product design and strict quality management were two integral factors to the project's success. Initially, the shop sold mostly decorative felt gifts and souvenir products, such as stuffed animals, targeting the tourist market. Nowadays, shoes and fashion accessories are the best selling products. Sales have increased significantly as a result of the superior sales outlet, product quality and training for producers in designing useful products, such as slippers, to meet Western demand. Another critical factor in the project's success was the involvement of NLM as a project partner. This non-governmental organization has longstanding experience in technical cooperation related to the wool sector and shares ITC's objectives of linking poor producers to markets so as to reduce poverty.

With support from ITC's EPRP in creating new product collections and training producers, the Tsagaan Alt Wool Shop has become a tourist attraction, with a turnover of US$15,000 a month, and supports the 300 members of the union. Bolstered by local sales from the tourist market and with the assistance of EPRP, the cooperative union has started a successful export business to China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway. With NLM and EPRP's involvement in the project now complete, the cooperative union has become autonomous and has generated enough profits to finance its attendance of the 2010 Ambiente Fair in Germany (sharing a stand with another EPRP project partner, the Cambodian Craft Cooperation).

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LAO SILK WEAVERS OPEN SALES OUTLETS

Weaving and wearing silk are deeply rooted in cultural and social traditions in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. The weavers, mostly women, produce scarves, table runners and sets, handbags and cushion covers. However, the lack of marketing skills and knowledge of international market requirements in terms of designs and product quality, has left producers poor and unable to tap into the potential revenues of silk production. …

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