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    Launching ITC's 40th Anniversary


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2004

    Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

    During its annual meeting, ITC launched its 40th anniversary celebrations. Many congratulated ITC on its achievements and encouraged it to continue along the path it has set itself.

    ITC's partners, donors and clients congratulated ITC on becoming a central player in trade-related technical assistance. They emphasized its closeness to the business sector, focus on least developed countries (LDCs), efforts to engage in broad partnerships and proactive approach to changes in the trading environment. A selection of their statements and messages follows.

    Putting trade to work for development

    by Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

    Notwithstanding the remarkable growth in international trade over the past half century, too few countries in the developing world have shared in the benefits. These countries do not lack potential to participate competitively and constructively in the international marketplace. Rather, the challenge facing the global community is to ensure that these countries have an unfettered opportunity to realize this potential, thereby enabling them to make real progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    It is against this backdrop that I am pleased to acknowledge the work of the International Trade Centre. ITC is unique. It is the only technical cooperation agency funded on a joint venture basis by the United Nations and a non-UN organization, the World Trade Organization. Its contributions in putting trade to work for development are widely recognized within the UN system, within the donor community and, most importantly, within developing countries themselves.

    The "business" of trade-related technical assistance is not an easy one, but ITC has managed to balance the commercially inspired demands of its clients in the business sector with the wider imperatives of sustainable development and poverty reduction. It has wisely focused its resources on the key to successful development assistance: building national capacities. It has forged partnerships that complement its own programmes and ensures wider impact for them. It has also been able to anticipate, and act on, the need for change, both in how it operates and what it delivers.

    I congratulate ITC's management and staff, past and present, on 40 years of service in support of the export efforts of the developing world. Please accept my best wishes for a bright and successful future.

    The above draws from Mr. Annan's message to ITC's Joint Advisory Group, which Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, delivered on his behalf.

    ITC increases trading opportunities

    by Douglas M. Griffiths, United States of America

    As the organization that works most closely with business people and government officials at the grass roots, ITC plays an indispensable role in increasing the productive and trade capacities of developing countries. In many ways, it falls to ITC to transform the fruits of Geneva conference halls into tangible income-producing opportunities for citizens in developing countries across the globe.

    ITC represents the most entrepreneurial element of the international community's response to increasing trade opportunities - both in the way it approaches its work and in the partners it selects in developing countries.

    The United States Government's cooperation with ITC has intensified over the past year, including contributions to the Business for Development programme and the Interactive TradeMap programmes.

    There is increasing recognition that the development of institutional, technical and productive capacities provide stepping stones for developing countries' effective participation in the world trading system. ITC plays a key role in this process. We congratulate ITC's successes in increasing the trading opportunities of developing countries, and look forward to working with it in the next 40 years.

    Mr. Griffiths is First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. The above is extracted from his statement.

    Focus on least developed countries

    by Gyan Chandra Acharya, Nepal

    ITC has adopted an innovative approach in using resources for the benefit of developing countries - broad partnerships with a large number of inter-governmental and multilateral organizations. What is also remarkable is its field-level work which has a direct impact on the ground. As it works with small and medium-sized firms, its role in promoting competitiveness within the highly integrated and shifting nature of international trade is particularly important.

    In years to come, I hope ITC will continue to give special attention to the needs and concerns of LDCs in view of their increasing marginalization in the global economy. LDCs' share of world trade has declined from 3% in 1960 to less than 0.5% at present. Most are still dependent on commodities for their export earnings. They have not been able to diversify their export base, nor make use of their competitive advantages. Product development and market penetration continue to be a major challenge.

    Nepal has just joined the WTO as its 147th member. We look forward to working closely with ITC to consolidate the process of our integration into the world economy, and to make this new environment a positive force for promoting trade and development and reducing poverty in the country.

    Over the years, Nepal has benefited from a number of ITC programmes to promote trade and firms' export potential in cooperation with the Government as well as the private sector. The recent E-business Forum for Asia and the Pacific, held in Kathmandu, came up with specific recommendations for trade development in the region and the integration of technology with trade.

    ITC's focus at the firm level is much appreciated because their programmes have been effective and results-oriented. Enterprise development strategies with a view to integrating them into the multilateral trading system with enhanced competitiveness is key to the success of developing countries. We look forward to working closely with ITC in the days ahead.

    H.E. Gyan Chandra Acharya is Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. The above is based on his statement.

    Complementary trade development roles

    by Rubens Ricupero, UNCTAD Secretary-General

    The complementarities between the work of ITC, WTO and UNCTAD are apparent in a variety of joint operations in the field. The Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme in Selected Least Developed and Other African Countries (JITAP) has become one of the best references of inter-agency cooperation in the area of trade-related capacity building.

    The new UNCTAD technical cooperation strategy adopted in October emphasizes institution-building, long-term goals and support to home-grown policies as the core elements of our efforts on capacity development. There is a wide convergence between these goals and ITC's proposed "2006-2007 strategic framework".

    We look forward to identifying complementarities with the ITC initiative of internships for young graduate business students, in order to enhance cooperation between our three agencies on the building of long-term trade capacities.

    The above is taken from Mr. Ricupero's statement, which was delivered by Heiner Flassbeck of UNCTAD.

    A trusted partner

    by Pierre-Louis Girard, Switzerland

    Switzerland has always attached great importance to ITC, as an irreplaceable link in its multilateral and bilateral technical assis-tance projects. On this occasion, it is fitting to congratulate ITC for its determination to learn from the past and adapt its strategy to the challenges of the present, in order to be even more competent in the future. I am also pleased to note that ITC is showing a greater capacity for self-analysis. I believe this is essential, particularly in the difficult area of evaluating the impact of its activities and adapting its management as a result.

    I note with satisfaction that ITC has largely achieved its goal of increasing delivery of technical assistance by 20% over 2002, thanks notably to more voluntary contributions from donors. This development confirms a constant progression over the past few years and displays the trust ITC enjoys from donor countries.

    What makes ITC unique is its mission to concern itself exclusively with trade-related technical assistance for the benefit of the private sector. Switzerland would like ITC to be more proactive in finding synergies with multilateral organizations and agencies, as well as with relevant bilateral programmes. In other words, we would like ITC to assume responsibility for coordinating these activities in the field.

    In terms of bilateral projects with ITC, Switzerland will continue its partnership concerning the Executive Forum on National Export Strategies. It also plans to implement a new trade promotion project in South-East Europe. Other bilateral projects under way include trade promotion and export development in both Central and South-East Asia, and in Bolivia. Important projects are also being developed in Africa.

    H.E. Pierre-Louis Girard is Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the WTO and the European Free Trade Association. The above are translated excerpts of his statement.

    Ties with development bank to increase African trade, reduce poverty

    by Ablassé Ouedraogo, African Development Bank Group

    The quality of its export environment is crucial for Africa because it has a direct influence on investment and growth - and as a result, on its populations. Foreign currencies earned from exports allow African countries to import the goods and equipment necessary for economic growth, and to repay foreign debt. Export promotion, therefore, is directly linked to reducing poverty.

    Development banks are starting to pay attention to trade as a means to reduce poverty, but there is more they can do. The African Development Bank will not duplicate the work of organizations such as WTO, UNCTAD and ITC. It must instead redefine the nature and scope of its activities in trade and development, particularly in sectors that can help push back poverty. The Bank is working to improve the research capabilities of national, sub-regional and regional institutions to promote economic integration and cooperation between African countries. The Bank Group, ITC, WTO and UNCTAD will also work together to harmonize their own policies and procedures on trade development.

    Ablassé Ouedraogo is Senior Adviser to the President of the African Development Bank Group. The above are translated excerpts of his statement.

    Building links between business and government

    by Rolf-Dieter Drescher, Germany

    When it comes to assisting developing countries to enhance their export competitiveness, technical assistance to the business sector is a key, if not the key ingredient. A constructive partnership and dialogue between the public and private sectors, as promoted by ITC, is key to an increased participation by developing countries in the multi-lateral trading system.

    The so-called Derbez text - the compromise paper by the Mexican Foreign Minister at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún - explicitly recognized "the successful efforts of the ITC to involve the business communities of the developing countries in the context of the Doha Development Agenda" and encouraged ITC to continue its efforts. ITC, in my view, has turned into a central player in the field of trade-related technical assistance.

    Mr. Drescher is Deputy Head of Division at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. The above draws from his statement.

    Valuable services for LDCs

    by Naim Akibou, Benin, on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries

    The tools that ITC has developed to meet its main goals have demonstrated their usefulness and relevance. Some of the valuable programmes and activities to promote trade and improve enterprise competitiveness in which LDCs participate are JITAP, the Integrated Framework, the South-South Trade Promotion Programme and the Export-led Poverty Reduction Programme.

    The number of beneficiaries has increased, to include several developing countries and groups of developing and transition economies.

    The Group of LDCs thanks its partners for their contributions to beneficiary countries and urges them to increase their support in order to maintain the momentum and the positive results already achieved.

    Finally, the Group of LDCs expresses its satisfaction with ITC for the quality of its activities in the field, and the ever-improving services it offers at its headquarters in Geneva.

    Mr. Akibou is First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Benin to the United Nations in Geneva. The above draws from his statement on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries.

    Hard work, performance, results

    by Kipkorir Aly Azad Rana, WTO

    ITC has grown from a provider of trade information and trade promotion advisory services to business communities in the developing world to a fully-fledged and highly respected player in trade-related technical assistance and trade capacity building. ITC has also promoted linkages between producers and exporters from developing countries, from countries in different continents, giving them the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge.

    Through innovation, constant review and evaluation, ITC has maintained its relevance as an institution dedicated to supporting business people. ITC has earned the trust and respect of the business world the old-fashioned way - through hard work, performance and results.

    The basic philosophy that has guided ITC - that trade can be a powerful engine for growth and development in poorer parts of world - will ensure ITC's relevance continues well into our future. At the WTO we share this philosophy. No other area of international economic cooperation can offer developing countries the gains that ambitious trade liberalization can generate.

    WTO has been working closely with UNCTAD and ITC to strengthen its collaboration so that all developing countries can participate and benefit fully from the open, rules-based multilateral trading system. The Integrated Framework for Least Developed Countries, for example, allows for a better delivery of trade-related assistance, responding to the specific needs of LDCs.

    We recognize the crucial role of ITC in trade development and praise its experience as a specialized technical assistance provider. We encourage it to continue innovating in its approaches and programmes.

    Dr. Rana is Deputy Director-General of WTO. The above draws from his statement.

    Dianna Rienstra and Prema de Sousa compiled this article. The full report of the 37th session of ITC's Joint Advisory Group is available online at http://www.intracen.org/docman/JAG_5325.pdf