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    Regional networking: ITC's perspective


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

    Regional groupings of trade promotion organizations (TPOs) are on the rise. Reports from the Third World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations confirmed this as one of the clearest trends to emerge among TPOs.
    Regional partnerships exist among Spanish-speaking countries, Europeans, and Asia and the Pacific through the Red Ibero-Americana (Spanish-American network), the Groupement Européen pour la Promotion du Commerce International (GEPCI, the European Grouping for International Trade Promotion) and the Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF). These regional groupings are expanding, noted conference participants. As an outcome of the conference, participants from Africa and the Middle East pledged to work towards developing their own regional structure, drawing upon the experiences of other regional associations.

    Sharing regional experiences

    These groupings allow national trade promotion organizations within a given region to exchange information more effectively. Networking gives them a jump start in creating new services and delivering existing ones more efficiently, by drawing upon experiences of similar organizations.

    Information shortcuts

    Regional trade promotion groupings also serve as a quick way to get a regional overview on specific issues, and quickly link up with relevant national trade promotion organizations. Internet developments have accelerated this potential, with the expansion of 'gateways' and 'portal sites'. For example, Asian e-trade strategy trends are available at a glance for several Asian countries, simply by checking the Asian Trade Promotion Forum's web site (click on 'bulletin', which is their newsletter, recently put online).

    ITC builds on regional groupings

    Regional groupings figure strongly in ITC's approach to develop a virtual TPO community. Rather than creating duplicate information exchange mechanisms, the approach builds upon existing regional networks, and links them. The aim is to strengthen regional networks by giving them greater visibility; and help trade development professionals tap into regional and national offerings more efficiently.

    Promoting regional networks

    Consequently, ITC's magazine will regularly feature regional trade promotion groupings in order to increase your awareness about them: who they are, how they operate, what issues concern them, and how you can contact them.

    For our first profile, we selected the Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF). Created in 1987, it has been evolving rapidly. This profile of ATPF's activities is drawn from remarks by Hiroshi Yokokawa, Executive Vice President of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). JETRO serves as the host for the Asian grouping.

    Reported by Natalie Domeisen