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    Donors Evaluate ITC


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2006

    An external evaluation recommends steps to build on ITC's comparative advantage as a provider of trade-related technical assistance.

    Donors and beneficiaries welcomed the outcome of a two-year external evaluation of ITC at an informal meeting of its Joint Advisory Group in November 2005.

    Led by the Government of Denmark and supported by a group of donors, the evaluation was comprehensive in scope. It resulted in six volumes of reports, including country assessments; evaluations of ITC tools, programmes and services; analysis of corporate issues such as human resource development, governance structures and business processes; and a final Synthesis Report.

    ITC has a strong comparative advantage in delivering trade-related technical assistance, says the evaluation, with a "clear division of labour between ITC… UNCTAD and WTO, … with ITC focused on trade development and UNCTAD and WTO focused on trade policy and regulation".

    ITC's advantages

    ITC's main advantages were cited as: its specific mandate; practical emphasis on enterprises and trade promotion strategies; technical competence; accumulated knowledge; experience in trade development; and its convening power with the business and trade development communities. The evaluation endorsed ITC's overall strategy, noting, "ITC has considerable knowledge of its TSI [trade support institution] partners" and considers "responding to client needs" as an essential element in its programming. It gave high scores for efficiency and relevance of ITC's operations.

    Where ITC should focus

    It nevertheless called on ITC to measure its results and impact more systematically. Four key recommendations emerged:

    • If ITC can implement key management and institutional reforms, it should consider an increase in the scale of its operations with a greater focus on country-specific projects.
    • To show its contribution to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, ITC needs a structured set of indicators to measure results, including those for trade development, poverty reduction and gender equity; and a reporting and monitoring system which includes its programme delivery partners.
    • ITC should assess needs more systematically, better measure the costs of producing its tools and monitor their use, to ensure relevance and cost-effectiveness.
    • ITC should carry forward its results-based management efforts as a priority. The next step should be to draw up an appropriate, corporate-level performance management framework with structured indicators to assess results.

    Recommendations for stakeholders

    Among the recommendations for ITC's stakeholders - donors, beneficiaries and the parent bodies, UNCTAD and WTO - the following are particularly significant:

    • Donor agencies should harmonize financial support to reduce transaction costs and improve overall coherence and effectiveness.
    • Donor agencies should consider increasing multi-year advance commitments, to reduce adverse effects of late arrival of funds.
    • Governments concerned with ITC's future direction should re-examine its governance and accountability structures, and consider a smaller, more effective mechanism to assess programmes and provide policy guidance. Such a mechanism should complement and support the Joint Advisory Group and governance organs of UNCTAD and WTO.
    • The Joint Advisory Group, UN and WTO Secretariats should review with ITC the current overload of technical oversight mechanisms, in order to release ITC's staff resources for performance-oriented programme management, a shared priority of ITC and its supporting bodies.
    ITC agrees with these and most other recommendations in the report, and its management response offers measures to implement those requiring action from ITC. Stakeholders will decide separately on recommendations in their area of responsibility. Putting these recommendations into practice will be a key challenge for ITC's new management in the years to come and will be instrumental in making ITC a stronger, more effective and focused organization. The evaluation reports and ITC's management response are available at:

    For more on the ITC evaluation and its follow-up, contact Ashish Shah, Senior Programme Officer, Office of the Executive Director at shah@intracen.org