Magazine article International Trade Forum

From Negotiations to Export Capacity ITC Builds Bridges: A Report on ITC's Annual Meeting

Magazine article International Trade Forum

From Negotiations to Export Capacity ITC Builds Bridges: A Report on ITC's Annual Meeting

Article excerpt

ITC reviewed its progress in helping countries to supply world markets at the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre, its annual meeting with bened ficiaries and donors (Geneva, 18-22 April). Representatives from 93 developed and developing countries participated in the event, which studies ITC's work in the previous year and sets priorities for the year to come.

Many emphasized the importance of practical assistance to develop trade and of building links between players in today's complex trade environment. Helping least developed countries (LDCs) especially to build the capacity to supply international markets and reverse a trend of marginalization was at the forefront of delegates' concerns.

Linking market access and supply

Many LDCs spoke of the difficulty in adjusting to the "erosion of preferences" and the move towards liberalization without having competitive export structures in place for goods and services. "Market access is essential, but it's not enough," noted J. Denis Bélisle, ITC's Executive Director. "To make trade work for the poor, countries need to concentrate on their capacity to supply world markets."

Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director-General of WTO, appreciated "ITC's initiatives to inform and educate business communities in developing countries and encourage them to engage in WTO processes". Representing the head of UNCTAD, Victor Busuttil, Director of UNCTAD's Division of Management, emphasized ITC's "trade for development" contribution to building supply-side capacities, its role in poverty reduction and its work towards fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. ITC's close and complementary partnership with these two organizations has shaped its unique and pragmatic focus.

The Korean Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, the "best of the best" winner of the first global awards for trade promotion organizations (TPOs), also addressed the group, outlining the positive role of TPOs in economic development.

ITC's work in poverty reduction, services exporting, national export strategy development, public-private partnerships, textiles and clothing, market analysis, South-South trade, e-trade and sensitization about WTO issues were among the areas of interest in trade development that were most frequently singled out at the meeting, which was chaired by Ambassador Sarala Fernando of Sri Lanka.

Among new approaches to incorporate in ITC's work in Africa are its response to the Blair Commission for Africa report and new strategies for promising export areas for LDCs, such as cultural exports, eco-tourism and other environmental exports.

Noting how delivery increased by 82% over four years, representatives encouraged ITC in its current "managed growth" strategy, to ensure that both countries and ITC would develop the capacities to sustain and absorb growth. Some representatives remarked on the United Nations (UN) Office of Internal Oversight Services inspection report on ,JTC, with its suggestion that ITC might be a model for other UN bodies.

Focus on Doha, Hong Kong and beyond

How should the business sector organize itself to assist its negotiators at the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference? How can ITC best help businesses to compete, whatever the outcome of Hong Kong? These were some of the questions that ambassadors and government and business leaders from the developing world addressed at a special mid-week session. …

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