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    ITC Brings a Trade Dimension to the World Summit on the Information Society


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2003

    The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), taking place in Geneva, in December 2003, and in Tunis, in November 2005, gathers leaders from government, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the media to address the challenges posed by the global digital divide.

    ITC is making a notable contribution to the Geneva phase of the WSIS process by organizing a series of linked events to help promote the trade and business dimensions of the Summit, and by bringing the voice of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries and transition economies into the information society.

    Preparing the terrain

    ITC hosted an Expert Group Meeting on the Application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Export Competitiveness of SMEs in Developing and Transition Economies in Geneva, in June 2003. The aim was to verify ITC's approaches to the e-trade development segment of technical assistance and to consolidate international experts' views on its contribution to WSIS.

    ITC also dedicated a session on Development, Competitiveness and "e" during its global Executive Forum in Cancún, in September 2003. The aim was to address how SMEs in developing countries can reap the benefits of new technologies.

    At the International Telecom-munications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2003 in Geneva, in October 2003, ITC's exhibit featured its portfolio of training programmes, diagnostic tools, advisory services and publications.

    ITC's Regional E-Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu, in November 2003, addressed how business communities in the region apply ICT in their daily operations.

    ITC at the Summit

    ITC and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) are organizing a series of interactive workshops as part of the ICT4D Platform during WSIS. The aim is to help small firms in developing countries become more competitive in today's rapidly changing marketplace, using information and communication technologies.

    The theme will be, The Changing Marketplace: Putting "E" to Work, the workshops address practical experiences of e-business development and focus on finding new ways of doing traditional business; seizing new ICT-related business opportunities; and helping SME exporters overcome the digital divide. The sessions cover ITC's E-trade Bridge programme, the Swiss-Jordanian e-trade platform, e-waste and e-security and other experiences of putting "e" to work around the world.

    These interactive workshops follow up on major themes of the infoDev Symposium on ICT for Development: What Works, What Does Not Work, also taking place during the Summit.

    Other e-related initiatives during WSIS include a global meeting of the E-trade Bridge Network, as well as a joint ITC and seco exhibit called The Changing Marketplace. The exhibit features e-related tools, services, best practice cases and other material.


    ITC's role in the WSIS process is key to achieving the following objectives:

    • Give ICT stakeholders a better understanding of e-business experience, best practices and models of Internet-based economic and trade activities.

    • Harmonize views amongst stakeholders on responses to the global ICT challenges.
    • Provide business recommendations to the WSIS Action Plan.
    • Increase the role and visibility of the business community in developing countries in the Summit.

    ITC's contribution to WSIS

    Before WSIS

    • Expert Group Meeting on the Application of ICT for Export Competitiveness of SMEs in Developing and Transition Economies
    • Session on Development, Competitiveness and "e" at ITC's global Executive Forum
    • Exhibit at ITU Telecom World 2003
    • Regional E-Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific
    • Web portal on ITC at WSIS, featuring information for developing and transition economies on ITC's e-trade tools and services, links to ITC publications and relevant web sites and online registration for the joint ITC and seco interactive workshops at WSIS

    • Trade Forum magazine issue on The Changing Marketplace, dedicated to e-trade issues for developing countries
    During WSIS in Geneva at the ICT4D Platform

    • Global Summit on the E-trade Bridge Network
    • Session on Building Trade Capacity as part of the infoDev Symposium
    • Interactive Workshops - The Changing Marketplace: Putting "E" to Work
    • Interactive Exhibit - The Changing Market-place, featuring e-related tools, services, best practice cases and other material.
    Towards WSIS in Tunisia

    • ITC will incorporate recommendations from the WSIS Action Plan formulated in Geneva into its e-trade strategy training and e-trade development programmes, and report on implementation in Tunis.

    For more information on ITC and the WSIS process, please visit ITC's web site at http://www.intracen.org/e-trade.