Magazine article International Trade Forum

From Reform to Effective Delivery

Magazine article International Trade Forum

From Reform to Effective Delivery

Article excerpt

Our Annual Report starts by saying that 1998 was "a year during which ITC progressed from building up organizational strengths to transferring these strengths to its operational programmes, one during which its focus moved from administrative reform and basic retooling to its main mission: the effective delivery of its field programmes". To elaborate on these points, I will first take stock of our assets today. I will then suggest how ITC can enhance its operational activities at country level.

ITC's assets today

ITC's mandate today is as relevant as ever. Businesses in developing countries need help to best take advantage of the new Multilateral Trading System. In carrying out its mandate, ITC has a clearly defined target group: SMEs in developing and transitional economies and the trade support organizations that service them.

Our six areas of specialization and evolving strategies give us focus and help us define our priorities.

With some 35 years of experience, we understand trade-related technical assistance needs and have a regenerated capacity to undertake practical work, in high demand throughout the developing world, at the operational level. Helping partner countries to design and implement projects is our business and we are learning to coordinate inputs from several agencies in joint projects.

Our new technical assistance tools are helping us to discharge our mandate at a consistently high standard, and with reduced lead time and costs at the national level. These tools and methodologies, applied to areas such as product and market development, the promotion of South-South trade, trade information and competitiveness improvement, represent a solid and growing substantive base for ITC's value-added interventions within tailor-made country programmes. These tools and our related strategic 'product-network' approach constitute a cost-effective technique for maximizing ITC's outreach and achieving national capacity-building.

The Global Trust Fund has made it possible for ITC to expand and refine its array of tools and to undertake operational activities addressing the collective needs of client countries. The Fund also provides the flexibility needed to meet urgent requirements and to undertake needs assessments and formulate tailor-made projects at country level.

Finally, 34 new professional and 10 general service staff, men and women with specialized skills and experience have joined ITC in the last two years. They come from around the world and bring with them refreshing ideas and enthusiasm for our work.

To sum up, ITC has introduced new management processes, strengthened its core competencies, reengineered its tools and approaches to respond more effectively to the clearly expressed needs of its clientele, and has been rejuvenated with the arrival of new staff. ITC's comparative advantages and value-added input are becoming apparent to all. In addition to the strengths deriving from its institutional status, ITC has acquired substantial experience to deliver unique services in its areas of specialization and to facilitate access to the expertise of others through networking. We believe that we have reached the point where we can handle more work more effectively.

How do we now move forward to increase our operational activities at the country level?

Enhancing operational activities

Our number one objective is to achieve the broadest possible impact in a larger number of beneficiary countries. More countries should benefit from the type of support provided through the Joint ITC/UNCTAD/WTO Integrated Technical Assistance Programme in Selected Least-Developed and Other African Countries (JITAP) and more countries should benefit from comprehensive tailor-made programmes.

ITC, like many other agencies in the United Nations system, has been experiencing a sharp decrease in extra-budgetary resources. …

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