World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations: Adapting to a Changing Global Economy
Eighty-six trade promotion organizations from 66 countries met in Santiago de Chile in October for the second World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs). The conference was addressed by Chile's President and its Minister of Foreign Affairs; it was organized by ProChile, the national trade promotion organization. ITC's Executive Director was a keynote speaker, and WTO provided valuable insights to the conference.
ProChile, the conference organizer, drafted general conclusions. Edited excerpts follow.
Close to 300 bilateral meetings have been held, and ProChile signed six new cooperation agreements with its counterparts from Cuba, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Tunisia and Turkey. More agreements have been reached and will be signed in the future.
The conference combined theoretical presentations with practical descriptions of how to design, implement and transform our programmes to make them WTOcompatible. We have been informed that many of the programmes that we use are at risk of being listed as recurring subsidies. In this sense, a major conclusion of this conference is that our institutions will have the option to present, through our respective governments, a collective position of trade promotion organizations at the next conference, to be held in 2000 in Morocco. In this globalized world, our work is fundamental since we facilitate foreign trade activities by establishing contacts for private businesses, act as spokespersons before the public institutions of other nations, enable trade information to be organized and disseminated, and above all, provide small and medium-sized businesses with opportunities to conduct international trade.
Our institutions are at different levels of progress in analyzing and managing export promotion instruments. For this reason, we have presented the most successful experiences of countries from the five continents. This provided newer organizations with the opportunity to understand and internalize factors that have led to the success of more experienced organizations.
We know that many new institutions made contacts in order to obtain technical consulting on how to implement the programme examples presented. Thus, we feel that the conference has achieved one of its most important objectives.
Our institutions, which are public, should support trade promotion, but we know that this should be done in strict collaboration with the private sector. Our tools should be designed based on the needs of companies and businessmen, to whom our work is dedicated.
Among the topics presented to us by the attending institutions:
Belgium: the importance of corporate image;
Brazil: an expanded export promotion programme, that includes improving export products;
China: legal and administrative services; Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China): its international image programme and trade shows; Taiwan (Province of China): its advanced programme for business information dissemination via the Internet;
Colombia: the importance of user segmentation in the provision of services;
Costa Rica: the importance of developing medium and long-term strategies;
Ecuador: competitive advantage and its new Foreign Trade and Investment Law;
Germany: its programme for interaction between the public and private sectors (PPP);
Japan: the importance of promoting trade on two fronts, exports and imports;
Mexico: its programme for developing exports, "MEXICO EXPORTS";
Morocco: its interest in developing the manufacturing, value added and services industries;
The Netherlands: its desire to assist developing countries in trading with the European Union;
New Zealand: progress made in "trade information" and "market intelligence";
Peru: the need for our institutions to establish trust with the private sector;
Spain: its company training programme;
Switzerland: the importance of private companies placing commercial value on trade promotion services;
United States: its advanced electronic commerce programme;
Zimbabwe: its interest in human resources training. …