• home

    ITC Spells Out Its E-Trade Strategy


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2001 

    The conclusions drawn from the Executive Forum helped ITC to crystallize its thinking on how to assist its clients to understand, develop and apply the new information and communication technologies and associated business practices to international trade. The following are key elements from ITC's strategy.

    ITC's comparative advantage 

    Put simply, ITC's role is to ensure that developing country businesses can compete in the new digital economy. ITC's comparative advantage does not lie either in devising global regulatory standards or in creating telecommunications infrastructures. There are other public- and private-sector agencies with the knowledge, skills and resources required to be effective.

    ITC will impart an e-dimension to the following areas where it possesses comparative advantage:

    • Understanding developing country importers and exporters. ITC's traditional strength lies in its understanding of the needs of importers and exporters from its client countries. It has consistently focused on providing practical, results-oriented assistance to meet the needs of businesses in these countries.

    • Working with trade support institutions. ITC has in-depth experience of working with a wide variety of trade support institutions in the public, semi-public and private sectors. These relationships can be used to good effect in developing e-trade and supply-chain management.

    • Building networks. ITC establishes effective product delivery networks by leveraging its links to international professional bodies, academic institutions, centres of excellence, development agencies, and commercial vendors of services, software and equipment. These networks can be used as leading sources of independent information and advice to its partners.

    • Enhancing sector-specific knowledge. ITC has accumulated a wealth of knowledge in specific industry and service sectors. E-trade provides a means for eliminating inefficiencies and improving the effectiveness of traditional value chains, and for generating new business possibilities. At the same time, e-trade gives buyers and sellers the opportunity to increase their market knowledge and access.

    ITC implementation 

    National e-trade programmes 

    ITC's Implementation Plan is focused on delivering technical assistance at the country level to build national e-competence. The aim is to help countries build national e-trade programmes - through a package of training, advisory services, information, and partnership networks.

    The services range from national e-trade strategy development, to institutional e-trade development, right up to company-level training. Together, they form interlinked programmes, aimed at national governments, trade support institutions and enterprises.


    At the same time, ITC is also moving forward to enhance its own e-capability. Its services and resources are increasingly available via the Internet or in CD-ROM format, as well in traditional form. ITC's web site has improved considerably, and it is fast transforming itself into a technical cooperation tool. New portals are planned for training, purchasing and business competitiveness. Where feasible and useful, ITC is using video-conferencing techniques, in collaboration with the World Bank, to increase its outreach to clients. ITC is continually updating its own knowledge of the digital economy for analysis from the SME perspective and, in order to share this knowledge with its clientele, is producing an increasing number of publications and services.

    The pages ahead capture some of these changes, including an update on the new ITC site and the new Forum magazine site, a list of e-relevant ITC sources, and news about and from partner organizations.

    The ITC strategy for e-facilitated trade development is based on three components: 

    Awareness raising. ITC will raise awareness among its clients by demonstrating potential positive and negative impacts of e-trade. To do this, it will:

    • exchange information on the use of digital technology for trade: latest developments, opportunities, benefits and limitations;

    • develop partner country capacities to understand the business implications of advances in information and communication technology, and national competitiveness issues arising from them, by working with local decision-makers and influencers; and

    • act as a catalyst by organizing regional conferences which bring together all stakeholders to share ideas and best practices.

    Building knowledge. E-trade is knowledge intensive. ITC will assist in the acquisition of information and the creation of knowledge as a precondition for e-trade success. To do this, it will:

    • establish a knowledge base of best practices and new techniques from around the world;

    • add the perspective of developing and transition economies to these best practices and techniques, improve the clarity of this information and adapt its format to ITC clients; and

    • provide information, training and advice to help clients assess new technologies and associated business practices.

    Creating competence. ITC will develop higher value-added business opportunities for its clients by working with them to apply new-found knowledge and practical e-trade techniques to their supply chains. To do this, it will:

    • provide training in the new business practices required to obtain full benefits from the use of e-trade technology;

    • facilitate the sharing of e-trade policy and regulatory developments;

    • promote an international perspective in the way in which business is conducted; and

    • help clients to understand the contextual, organizational, structural, management and process changes required to fully realize the benefits of Internet technology.

    This article is taken from the ITC Strategy for E-Facilitated Trade Development. To obtain a copy of the full strategy, contact John Gillies, ITC Training Officer, at gillies@intracen.org