The international trade arena is dynamic and complex. Building awareness of the opportunities and challenges that developing countries face in the area of international trade is a key role for ITC. The organization boosts trade awareness by providing thought leadership and encouraging debate among trade and development experts, enabling decision makers to collaborate, making complex research accessible and practical for the general public, and orchestrating trade-related events such as the World Export Development Forum (WEDF).
Awareness of new issues in international trade
Global advocacy is at the heart of a number of ITC programmes, particularly those in new and innovative areas such as Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) affecting trade, Women and Trade, and Trade and the Environment. The NTM programme is launched in each country with a stakeholder meeting including representatives of the public and private sectors. In addition, roundtable discussions and public-private dialogues are held to increase transparency and awareness of the impact of NTMs on international trade and sustainable economic development.
With several NTMs associated with the environment and climate change, global advocacy is an important part of ITC’s Trade and Environment programme. The programme has produced a how-to guide on carbon-footprinting for SMEs and ITC is actively engaged in raising trade and environmental issues in the international media. A special study on trade in endangered species has been produced in partnership with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for use by government authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Southeast Asia.
A key component of ITC’s Women and Trade programme is building awareness of gender issues in trade and mainstreaming gender into the work of trade-related technical assistance, including the work of ITC. ITC works closely with partners to ensure gender is mainstreamed into trade policy. ITC also conducts research to develop a deeper understanding of the gender make-up of key sectors in partner countries, in order to maximize impact of activities on women. ITC’s Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors is actively involved in highlighting the extremely low level of procurement from women-owned companies — by corporations and governments — and is committed to raising the level of corporate spending on women from 1% to 7% among its members.
Strategies for export development
Real change in the trade landscape and dynamics of a particular sector, country or region can only be effected through strategic, integrated initiatives involving a representative array of stakeholders from the public and private sectors to identify a common vision, determine the strategic requirements, and manage the implementation of an action plan. In this context, an export strategy represents the best possible assessment of trade-related needs. From this initiative, countries have a tangible, informed platform from which to attract investment for future initiatives.
This is the essence of ITC’s approach to export strategy. In addition to working with individual sectors and countries, export strategy plays an intrinsic role in a number of ITC’s large programmes. Placing export strategy at the forefront of large programmes demonstrates the ultimate goal of sustainable development through exports.
Increasingly, ITC’s work in export strategy is moving beyond the strategy document towards supporting implementation, through coordinated management mechanisms that are established and managed by national and regional institutions. In the case of the All African Caribbean Pacific Agricultural Commodities Programme (AAACP), which was completed at the end of 2011, detailed regional cotton, textile and clothing sector strategies were developed in West and Central Africa, while sector strategies were also developed for high-value commodities in partner countries. Rather than simply produce a strategy document, partner institutions were enabled jointly to produce plans of action and implementation frameworks to accompany each of the regional and national sector strategies. In West Africa, the governance structure to ensure the implementation management of the regional cotton strategy was established by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). The implementation framework was recognized by the bodies of the UEMOA Commission as the lead institution for mobilizing resources for the implementation of the strategy and for providing effective support in the development of the cotton-textile-clothing industry in the region. Similar results were achieved in other large programmes.
For more information:
Export strategy: http://www.intracen.org/Policy/Export-Strategy-Design/
World Export Development Forum: http://www.intracen.org/policy/wedf/