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    ITC Executive Forum - Export Development in the Digital Economy


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2000

    For the second time, ITC organized an Executive Forum event, in order to assess the implications of cutting-edge trade development trends for export strategy-makers (Montreux, Switzerland, 27-30 September 2000). This year's topic was "Export Development in the Digital Economy". Supported by the Swiss secretariat of economic affairs (seco), the event gathered export strategy-makers and business leaders from 24 developing and transition economies, along with e-commerce experts and international organizations.

    The conference looked at realities, opportunities and best practices for e-commerce. Participants assessed how countries can build competence in e-commerce, and use it as a springboard to develop exports. The conference identified best practices on developing

    e-trade export strategies for trade development professionals and businesses. Participants highlighted that:

    • E-commerce is changing how international transactions are initiated and managed. It is also reshaping relationships between buyers and sellers and between consumers and producers.

    • E-commerce is redefining the roles of the public and private sectors in developing e-trade capability. In some areas, the private sector must take the lead. Yet public-sector organizations need to take a stronger role in developing e-competency among enterprises.

    • The quality of public-private sector partnerships, and their ability to take concerted action, will distinguish winners from losers in the digital economy.

    Bringing Montreux to a wider audience

    The Executive Forum was more than a three-day event. It was a process designed to help trade support institutions, enterprises and ITC understand e-trade realities, opportunities and best practices for developing and transition economies, in order to design appropriate e-trade development strategies. The process included:

    • July brainstorming event. Roughly 20 e-commerce experts, from developed and developing countries, joined with ITC staff to review

    e-trade in developing countries, in preparation for the Montreux event.

    • E-mail discussion fora. ITC organized three worldwide e-mail discussion fora - before, during and following Montreux. This enabled some 600 participants from 85 countries to join the debate.

    • ITC Executive Forum web site (http://www.intracen.org/execforum). Montreux participants posted background papers on national e-trade perspectives; ITC conducted interviews and provided journalistic highlights of the July brainstorming event; and the e-mail discussion fora were posted, for easy consultation and reference.

    • WTO briefing session. ITC presented the Montreux results to WTO delegates at a special briefing session (Geneva, October 2000). Private-sector speakers joined WTO Director General Mike Moore and ITC Executive Director J. Denis Bélisle to discuss the implications of e-commerce for developing countries. The speakers represented IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Africa On-line, Ecuador Electronic Commerce Corporation and the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation.

    • Publications. Highlights are featured in a forthcoming book. In addition, two issues of Trade Forum magazine (Issue 3/2000 and forthcoming Issue 1/2001) cover the process. The next issue will also present key elements of ITC's e-trade strategy for developing countries, which was developed as an outcome of the Executive Forum process.

    For more information, contact Brian Barclay, coordinator of the Executive Forum, at barclay@intracen.org