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  • ISSUE 1/2003


  • Relying on foreign direct investment alone is a risky path to export growth. From industrial clusters to contract farming, export production villages and hard business networks, in-country strategy options deserve a second look.Export strategy-makers devote too much attention to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) as a means of increasing export capacity and reinforcing export competitiveness." This was the gist of one proposition presented to the 2002 Executive Forum and the Southern African Regional Executive Forum. It proved to be, as we expected, provocative. In fact, one participant asked if we were joking. We weren't.

    A business environment that fosters national competitiveness pays dividends across the board. Whatever its stage of development, export strategies that support innovation and use of technology will help a country move forward.

    The Executive Forum has evolved from an annual debate among export strategy leaders in business and government, to a network of contacts, with case studies, tools and recommendations for successful export strategies.

    The next ITC/seco Executive Forum will take place in Cancún, Mexico on the eve of the WTO Ministerial Conference, and will include Bancomext among the co-hosts.

    New opportunities for least developed countries (LDCs) have little to do with the past, thanks, in part, to globalization and new information technologies. Few are aware of the promising grass-roots stories of LDC exporters. A new generation of innovative, energetic and persevering entrepreneurs is emerging. ITC, with its track record in LDC trade development, is open to new partnerships to help LDCs reach their export potential.

    Workshops in Nigeria, Mauritius and Mozambique took place in February as part of ITC's work to promote gender in trade development and increase exports of services from developing countries. The workshops were aimed at women entrepreneurs offering business services, such as information technology, legal, accounting, translation, design, etc.

    Can national branding improve export competitiveness? Branding experts, business executives and government officials debated the issue as part of the Executive Forum process.

    Mr. J. Denis Bélisle of Canada has been reappointed as Executive Director of the International Trade Centre by Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2003     Annual Report 2002. 30 pages (ITC/AG(XXVI)193). The Annual Report of the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO reviews and analyses major activities performed by the organization and overall progress made

    Successful national export strategies are based on identifying a country's competitive advantage and understanding how to make the most of it.

    Can countries create and sustain export strategies that will foster growth and development as well as exploit commercial opportunity? Not all countries have explicit national export strategies, and fewer still have documented and measured strategies that improve export earnings and increase employment.

    For a country, maintaining competitive advantage means managing the system which supports export development - and measuring performance. The tools are available. Nevertheless, they are rarely used, particularly by developing countries. Why is this so?

    New TPO awards and innovative export management approaches will mark the next gathering, which will take place in Malta in 2004."Thinking outside of the box" will be the driving concept behind the next World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations, which will be held in Malta in the last quarter of 2004. The event will be co-hosted by the Malta External Trade Corporation (METCO) and ITC.

    How does cooperation for trade development in LDCs work in practice?

    Sustained improvement in export performance relies on a comprehensive, realistic national export strategy and the capacity to manage it. The fact is, however, that few developing countries have invested in formulating a national export strategy. Why?

    The Trade Facilitation Office of Canada and ITC signed a Memorandum of Agreement in March 2003 to help African exporters boost their potential, through a five-year, 8 million Canadian dollar (US$ 5 million) programme funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. Called PACT (Programme for Building African Capacity for Trade), this is one of the initiatives under the Canada Fund for Africa, which was announced by the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, at the G8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada in June 2002.

    Tourism is a key industry to promote for a country seeking to increase its foreign revenues. For national strategy-makers, both optimism and caution are in order.

    An innovative, sector-based approach to competitiveness focuses on getting more value from goods and services produced for export. Value chain analysis can help developing countries make the most of their exports.