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    Networking for Trade Development


    From the Editor
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2000

    Networking for trade development is the common thread of this issue. Shaped by technology, networking is taking on a new importance, and new forms. The articles showcase some trade promotion organizations, their networking tools, and how they are used to promote trade. The aim is to provide insights that readers can apply to their own business needs, and to encourage links with existing trade development networks.

    In a "wired" world, using networks effectively is the only way to short-circuit a growing challenge: information overload. Build networks, tap into them and encourage links between them, said participants at ITC's Executive Forum on the Digital Economy (Montreux, 27-30 September 2000). "We need to share knowledge through linked communities", said a participant from Armenia. "There is not enough time to reflect on information that is transferred in traditional ways." This issue seeks to do just that - share knowledge and link communities - while setting the stage for the next Forum issue, which will report in-depth on the Executive Forum.

    Networking took centre stage at the third World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations (Marrakech, 25-27 October 2000). New networking trends that emerged were: stronger regional networks; new approaches to national partnerships; and innovative use of technology. The case of the Asian Trade Promotion Forum, as well as those of TPOs in Portugal, China and Australia, provide examples that illustrate these trends.

    Networks that link trade specialists are equally important. In the Close Up section on purchasing trends, there are examples of how Morocco and Uganda set up purchasing networks by creating professional associations; news about e-marketplaces, and how countries can best tap into them; and an overview of how governments can improve procurement access for small firms.

    ITC reaches out to another set of networks, those dealing with artisanal exports, in the Market Profile section. To capitalize on a new statistical breakthrough at the World Customs Council, ITC is calling on national artisanal networks to codify crafts in national trade statistics, and report their experiences to ITC.

    Technology allows networking to take new forms. E-mail discussions are a low-cost, efficient way to explore common issues and make new contacts. ITC used e-mail conferences as a way to extend to a broader network the debate at this year's Executive Forum on the Digital Economy. The "lessons learned" in organizing such conferences are highlighted in Exporting Better.