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    Talking Up Trade


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2006

    © Photos.com

    In development circles, trade is becoming accepted as a way to address poverty. Among the broader public, however, few make the link between trade and poverty reduction. Trade is seen as an "insider" or elite topic, not a subject of dinner conversation.

    But this is slowly shifting. NGOs are taking the trade debate to a broader public with flair, with fair trade groups and Oxfam in the forefront. Governments are bringing the views of business and NGOs into trade talks. Negotiators are making the case to enlist business leaders to advocate for free trade. Business students have even written to the Financial Times about it.

    Still, there is more room for change. The general public has decidedly mixed views about trade. Some concerns are justified. But how informed is the debate? And what are trade organizations doing to influence it?

    In developing countries, newsrooms face challenges: too few specialized reporters, slow Internet access and the impression that trade research, surveys and decisions are happening on faraway stages.

    Trade bodies may not be doing all they can to build awareness about how trade contributes to economic development. What can we do to "talk up" trade?

    This magazine issue offers new perspectives on attitudes about trade, reporting challenges and campaign practices, as well as recommendations. We've also compiled a list of Trade Forum articles that address advocacy for trade and invite our readers to consult - and comment on - them online.

    Another sign of change in development circles is the growing attention paid to Aid for Trade. WTO is stepping up its advocacy and coordination role to ensure that developing countries improve their capacity to trade, working closely with ITC and others in the process. This comes at a time when the way development assistance works is being rethought within the international community and when new models are being tested. We invite you to read more in the following pages.

    Natalie Domeisen