Magazine article International Trade Forum

ITC's Annual Meeting Reinforces Capacity-Building for Trade

Magazine article International Trade Forum

ITC's Annual Meeting Reinforces Capacity-Building for Trade

Article excerpt

Helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) compete globally is more relevant than ever.

In the aftermath of recent WTO and UNCTAD meetings in Seattle and Bangkok, Governments reaffirmed the importance of ITC's role in delivering practical trade development assistance to business at ITC's annual intergovernmental meeting, the Joint Advisory Group (Geneva, 10 to 14 April).

Governments endorse ITCs trade capacity-building strategy

Frank and open discussions about ITC's strategies, programmes and future directions took place among donors, beneficiary countries and a range of international organizations, all of which work in partnership with ITC to build trade capacities in developing and transition economies.

Governments applauded both ITC's strategy and recent track record, outlined during the meeting by Executive Director, J. Denis Belisle. ITC's technical assistance is designed to help countries benefit from the world trading system. Programmes address the five areas where assistance is most needed: mastering the business implications of the multilateral trading system; developing national export strategies; reinforcing trade support institutions; building enterprise competitiveness; and improving sectoral trade performance.

To implement this strategy,

Mr. Belisle highlighted ITC's comparative advantages in delivering technical assistance: a 36-year track record of field-based, trade development experience; major re-tooling of ITC's products and services, based on three years of applied research; and an innovative, participatory approach that delivers maximum outreach and builds capacity in a cost-effective manner.

Practical business solutions

ITC profiled two of its many practical business development solutions during an informal session at the meeting, which was also open to journalists, and attracted press coverage in a range of business newspapers, magazines and wire services.

The three-year Gourmet Coffee project, launched in 1997, helped pilot countries - Brazil, Burundi, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Uganda - to develop high-quality gourmet coffees in demand by coffee houses in the United States, Europe and Japan. As part of the project, ITC also co-organized the world's first Internet coffee auction, generating top prices and interest from bidders around the world.

ITC's South-South Trade Promotion programme outlined the scope for greater intra-regional trade, and the potential for business-to-business regional cooperation that makes firms more competitive in global markets. For example, regionally-based companies reported US$ 200 million dollars of export orders at recent ITC buyerssellers meetings in the Arab region. …

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