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    Competing with Confidence


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2002

    "The 4th World Conference of TPOs came at the right time and focused on the right issues - issues that we must all address. There appears to be a consensus that:

    • the role of TPOs needs to be reinforced, redefined and made better known;
    • TPOs need to constantly reinvent themselves and interact more closely with each other; and
    • TPOs have to better articulate the linkages between trade, investment and socio-economic development."

    J. Denis Bélisle,
    Executive Director, ITC.
    Excerpt from closing remarks,
    4th World Conference
    of Trade Promotion Organizations,
    Beijing, China, May 2002

    World Trends

    • Slowdown in world trade.
    • Signs of protectionism.
    • Doha Development Round.
    • Continued technological developments.
    • Declining government funding for TPOs.
    • Increased trade competition between firms.
    • Fast-moving investment flows.

    Staying Relevant

    • Assess new opportunities and challenges for SMEs.
    • Only embrace new challenges that relate to core mission and competencies.
    • Address foreign direct investment (solutions vary among TPOs on how this is done).
    • Promote trade as a means of economic development and poverty alleviation.
    • For all TPO activities, ask "Should we still do it?" and "Is this the best way of doing it?".
    • Invest in new competitive values: information, knowledge, creativity.
    • Review and update your networks. Some countries have a TPO, others have many trade support institutions. As organizations change their roles, new partners may become relevant. Partners may be domestic, regional or international.


    • Establish targets (such as doubling the number of exporters in five years).
    • Develop a strategy in consequence, and benchmark performance. Monitor, evaluate, get certified.
    • Offer a coordinated package of services.
    • Focus on the customer; shorten response time to changing client needs.
    • Make full use of the new tools of the information age. To "e" or not to "e" is no longer an option.
    • Train and retrain, both staff and clients.
    • Sensitize public about the value of trade.
    • Contribute to formulating national economic policy.
    • Develop joint TPO initiatives.