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    NGOs in Trade Development: International Players


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2006

    With thousands of non-governmental organizations involved in trade development, putting together a list of key players is a difficult task. The table below is not exhaustive, but it is representative of the organizations that could be of interest to our readers. The list is intended to give an idea about the broad area of activities carried out by the NGOs, as well as to provide information on possible areas of collaboration.

    NGOs are active in all areas of trade, from the international to the local level. Our small sample highlights major international NGOs or NGO alliances working on such issues as trade policy and negotiations, economic development for poor communities, financing and training of businesses.

    The NGOs listed are cross-referenced most frequently by other organizations, including WTO, UNCTAD and Harvard University. Although in the course of our research we did not find a listing such as the one below, we did come across several others related to trade, but they primarily listed NGOs working with specific international agencies.

    The scope of the organization's activities was another criterion in our choice, particularly their financial power and the capacity to influence trade policy-makers. Moreover, we chose to feature NGOs that actively support trade as a means to development and those participating in major pro-trade campaigns.

    It may be surprising to see so many "humanitarian" organizations on this list, which reflects a trend of their increased involvement in trade development. Many are realizing that developing trade and businesses proves more effective in fighting poverty than humanitarian aid alone. While their mandate goes beyond trade development, we've focused on the trade-related aspect of their activities.

    The entries in the table are based on the information available on the NGOs' web sites. We welcome your feedback and will use it to update the table.


    Trade and business development activities

    Facts and figures

    ActionAid International

    - Campaigns and lobbying to change trade rules and cut agricultural subsidies
    - Provides women with credit, working tools and skills training

    Founded: 1972
    Headquarters: Johannesburg, South Africa
    Local partner organizations: 2,034
    Annual reach: 13 million people
    Countries: 40 / Staff: 1,800

    Care International

    Economic development is one of Care International's eight activity sectors. Activities include:
    - Microfinance programmes
    - Business skills training
    - Institutional development of local partner institutions (banks, microfinance institutions and community-based and non-governmental organizations)

    Founded: 1945
    Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
    Member organizations: 12
    Annual reach: 48 million people
    Countries: 70
    71% of Care's activities is devoted to development in poor communities


    - Microfinance programmes
    - Business and vocational skills training
    - Rural development programmes
    - Helps local institutions to provide vocational training services
    - Campaigns for changes in trade policy

    Founded: 1968
    Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland
    Number of partners: 240
    Countries: 26
    Expenditure in 2005 on livelihoods programmes:

    Consumers International

    Advocacy and campaigns for trade-related issues affecting consumers worldwide, including:
    - Agricultural trade
    - Liberalization of services
    - Competition policy
    - Intellectual property rules
    - Textiles and clothing
    - International finance
    - Standards and transparency
    - Accountability of institutions, e.g., WTO

    Founded: 1960
    Headquarters: London, UK
    Member organizations: 230
    Countries: 113
    Annual turnover: $5,500,000

    Consumers Union

    - Tests products to inform and protect consumers
    - Works with regulators to improve the quality of the consumer marketplace
    - Food and product labelling
    - Works with other international consumer groups to help develop test protocols and share data

    Founded: 1936
    Headquarters: New York, USA
    Staff: more than 500


    - Integrated financial services programme (microfinance, equity investment and strengthening of community-based organizations)
    - Business service development (management and technical consulting, entrepreneurial skill development, association capacity building, rural development)

    Founded: 1965
    Headquarters: Washington DC, USA
    Countries: 50
    Gross budget: $120 million
    Staff: 70 (headquarters); 300 (field)

    Consumer Unity & Trust Society - CUTS International

    Research, advocacy and networking on:
    - Trade and sustainable development issues (multilateral as well as regional)
    - Competition, investment and economic policy, including regulatory reforms
    - Consumer protection and safety
    - Governance issues and empowerment of the poor, particularly in rural areas

    Founded: 1983
    Headquarters: Jaipur, India
    Members: 300 organizations and 1,000 individuals
    Resource centres: Calcutta, Chittorgarh and New Delhi (India); Nairobi (Kenya) and Lusaka (Zambia); London, UK

    Evian Group

    Fosters open, inclusive, global market economy through four pillars:
    - Forum for dialogue between corporate, government and opinion leaders
    - Think tank
    - Trade advocacy
    - Education about globalization and benefits of multilateral trading system

    Founded: 1995
    Based in: Lausanne, Switzerland

    Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International - FLO

    Supports fair trade producers and traders through:
    - Guaranteeing fair trade standards
    - Business facilitation (assistance and project development)
    - Producer support by strengthening their organization and production

    Headquarters: Bonn, Germany
    Certified producers: 531
    Countries: 50
    Working with: 1 million farmers and workers

    Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy - IATP

    - Trade Information Project (organizing seminars and training sessions, and disseminating information on trade negotiations)
    - Trade and Agriculture Project initiates and supports efforts to forge stronger and fairer multilateral trade rules

    Founded: 1986
    Headquarters: Minneapolis, USA

    International Chamber of Commerce - ICC

    Promotes cross-border trade and investment, entrepreneurship and the market economy:
    - Sets rules and standards
    - Trade and investment policy advocacy
    - Services to business

    Founded: 1919
    Headquarters: Paris, France
    Countries: 130
    National committees and groups: 90

    International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development - ICTSD

    Advocacy for sustainable development through:
    - Information and research
    - Networking and dialogue
    - Training for trade and sustainable development

    Founded: 1996
    Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

    International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements - IFOAM

    - Develops and promotes the principles of organic agriculture
    - Advocates for the adoption of organic agriculture
    - Promotes the development of organic markets
    - Implements projects to facilitate the adoption of organic agriculture

    Founded: 1972
    Headquarters: Bonn, Germany
    Member organizations: 750
    Countries: 108

    International Institute for Sustainable Development - IISD

    Policy recommendations for sustainable development in:
    - Trade and investment
    - Economic policy
    - Climate change
    - Measurement and assessment of sustainable development progress
    - Natural resources management

    Founded: 1990
    Headquarters: Winnipeg, Canada
    Countries: 30
    Partner organizations: 200

    International Policy Network - IPN

    - Improves public understanding of the role of trade liberalization
    - Helps organizations that advocate for the role of markets and market institutions through training, financial support and help with their web site development

    Headquarters: London, UK
    Founded: 2001

    Mennonite Economic Development Associates - MEDA

    Focus on people with low income through:
    - Microfinance
    - Technological and marketing assistance
    - Business training
    - Community economic development

    Founded: 1953
    Headquarters: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    Budget: $6 million (2002-2003)
    Number of members: 3,000
    Staff: 175

    Mercy Corps

    Economic development programmes for communities recovering from war or social upheaval:
    - Microfinance
    - Technical assistance
    - Community development projects
    - Advocacy and campaigns to change trade rules

    Founded: 1979
    Staff: 2,700
    Assisted: nearly 10 million people in 2005
    Countries: currently 40; since 1979 assistance in 82 countries

    OXFAM International

    - Advocacy and campaigning for fair terms of trade and poverty reduction
    - Community development programmes
    - Microfinance programmes
    - Fair trade products promotion

    Members: 12 organizations
    Partners: 3,000
    Countries: more than 120
    Annual programme expenditure: $402,330,000

    Third World Network - TWN

    - Carries out research on economic, social and environmental issues pertaining to the South
    - Publishes books and magazines on trade and economy
    - Organizes and participates in seminars
    - Represents Southern interests at the UN

    Headquarters: Penang, Malaysia

    TransFair USA

    - Promotes equitable trade
    - Certifies fair trade products

    Founded: 1998
    Headquarters: Oakland, California, USA

    Women's Environment and Development Organization - WEDO

    - Advocates for women's equality
    - Sustainable development programme
    - Economic and social justice programme

    Founded: 1990
    Headquarters: New York, USA

    World Vision

    Helping communities tackle poverty through:
    - Community development programmes
    - Microfinance
    - Fair trade

    Founded: 1950
    Impact on: 100 million people
    Donors, supporters and volunteers: 5 million
    Countries: 100
    Jobs created or sustained through micro loans: 689,000

    WWF International

    - Macroeconomics programme: Influencing macroeconomic policies to integrate environmental sustainability and social equity into development strategies
    - Trade and investment programme: influencing international trade and investment issues in the course of pursuing sustainable development goals

    Founded: 1961
    Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland
    Staff: 4,000
    Operates in: 100 countries

    NGO alliances

    Trade and business development activities

    Facts and figures

    Alliance Sud - Swiss Alliance of Development Organisations

    Campaigns to:
    - Achieve fair terms of trade
    - Promote regulation of financial markets
    - Fight against tax evasion and damaging tax practices

    Founded: 1971
    Headquarters: Bern, Switzerland
    Regional offices: Lausanne, Lugano
    Member organizations: 6

    British Overseas NGOs for Development - BOND

    - Represents its members to UK and European Union governments on development policy and practice, aid quantity and quality, civil society-government relations and consultation and funding mechanisms
    - Enables the exchange of experience and learning between civil society organizations and runs training programmes
    - Facilitates networking for the exchange of information and ideas across the sector

    Founded: 1993
    Headquarters: London, UK
    Members: 300 organizations


    36 of InterAction's members are actively working on trade and development issues such as:
    - Agricultural and sustainable economic development
    - Fair trade and trade justice
    - Trade capacity building

    Founded: 1984
    Headquarters: Washington DC, USA
    Members: 160
    Annual contributions from private donors: $3 billion

    One World

    - Promotes sustainable development, social justice and human rights
    - Provides news and information about economy and development to help include the world's poorest and most marginalized people in the global debate

    Founded: 1995
    Partners: 1,500 organizations
    Countries: 90
    Information available in: 12 languages

      Marija Stefanovic, ITC public information marketing consultant, researched and compiled this list, with contributions from Peter Hulm, Prema de Sousa and Natalie Domeisen.

    Principal sources This table is based on interviews with ITC staff, review of ITC's NGO contacts and an extensive web search for organizations involved in trade development with international reach. Among the sites consulted for this research, the following were most useful: