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    Back to Montreux with Momentum


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2004

    ITC's Executive Forum moves back to Montreux, Switzerland this year after three innovative sessions in Cancún (Mexico), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago).

    The 2004 debate will be organized so that participating teams will also be able to attend the Fifth World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations being held in Valletta, Malta on 1-2 October. The theme will be building national competitiveness through the public-private sector partnership.

    "The decision to move the Executive Forum to Cancún last year was to provide a lead-in to the WTO's Ministerial Meeting," explains Brian Barclay, Coordinator of the Executive Forum. "The theme for the debate was 'Business for Development', which enabled participants to position the issues of competitiveness and export performance within the wider context of the Doha Development Agenda. We also wanted to give national representatives to the WTO a chance to participate in our discussions. Thanks to contributions from the Dutch and Swedish cooperation agencies - the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) - ITC invited trade strategy teams from several African least developed countries to the debate, which ITC and Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) organize in partnership." Over 50 teams participated.

    The Sofia Executive Forum (November 2003) was tailored to the competitiveness issues confronting transition economies. Strategy teams from eight south-east European countries participated, several of which were new to the Executive Forum network.

    Later in November, 20 countries sent teams to ITC headquarters for a ten-day workshop to familiarize themselves with ITC's strategy process tool, the National Strategy Template. A number of these countries are now developing national export strategies using the template.

    In January 2004, ITC, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat, held an Executive Forum for small states in Trinidad and Tobago. The debate on the theme "From Vulnerability to Competitiveness" attracted 28 national teams.

    ITC will be building on this momentum throughout 2004 by supporting a number of teams in putting together national and sector-level strategies. "Over 80 countries are now active members of the Executive Forum network. Many have the confidence to take a new look at how they are, or should be, responding to the challenges of increasing global competition. Our plan in 2004 is to have the network take the lead in analysing 'best practice' in strategy design and management in preparation for the Montreux debate," reports Barclay. "Our objective is to ensure greater interaction and experience-sharing among network members. After all, it is the individual members, not ITC, who need to develop strategies that will lead to increased international competitiveness and improved export performance."

    The latest details on the Executive Forum can be found online at http://www.intracen.org/execforum or by sending an e-mail to execforum@intracen.org