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    The Doha Development Agenda and ITC


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2002

    The Doha Ministerial Declaration places technical cooperation and capacity building at the core of the development dimension of the multilateral trading system. The Declaration reaffirms support for ITC's work and recommends that it be enhanced. This article provides a summary of ITC's programmes, tools and working methods that support the objectives of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.

    Trade-related technical cooperation

    ITC programmes help business communities and their trade support institutions, especially in the least developed countries (LDCs), to build capacity and orient themselves in a trading environment that is rapidly changing and increasingly determined by the WTO agreements. ITC's activities related to the multilateral trading system complement the work of other agencies through its focus on business implications.

    World Tr@de Net Programme

    Only a well-informed business community can contribute effectively to integrate the national economy into the multilateral trading system. The World Tr@de Net programme helps the business community to find its place in the negotiation and implementation of issues arising out of Doha. Since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, ITC has built up an infrastructure for business information on the multilateral trading system to help developing countries to strengthen business-government consultation. The programme supports over 40 country networks to engage in public-private sector consultations for more effective national negotiations and export strategies. ITC's intention, resources permitting, is to double the number of participating countries.

    Country network members include WTO focal points in ministries, trade support institutions, business and trade associations, academia, trade lawyers, specialized consultants and the media. Together, they prepare action plans targeted at the technical assistance needs of the business community.

    An outside evaluator stated: "The World Tr@de Net is based on a strong rationale. Flexible and robust networks that involve a wide variety of non-state stakeholders are excellent tools to achieve programme objectives at low cost. They are potentially important to enable the target countries to respond strategically to changes in the world trading system."

    Capacity-building tools

    • Business Guides provide information on the multilateral trading system from a business perspective. Guides include the Business Guide to the World Trading System, the Business Guide to the General Agreement on Trade in Services, and a series of Business Guides to Trade Remedies (antidumping, safeguard and countervailing duty actions) in the European Union, United States and Canada for developing countries. A question-and-answer book on International Trade Rules provides easy-to-understand information for the business community.
    • The World Tr@de Net web site (http://www.intracen.org/worldtradenet) offers up-to-date WTO-related information, materials and a discussion platform for the business perspective on multilateral trade issues.
    • Web-based Interactive TradeMaps help business and government to participate effectively in the "request" and "offer" stages of multilateral trade negotiations. They are used to assess national and product-specific trade performance, reveal comparative and competitive advantages and identify market diversification potential. They shed light on global export and import patterns and trends for more than 5,000 products of the Harmonized System. Market Access Maps provide information on bilateral market access conditions across products and countries.
    • ITC assists in establishing national Enquiry Points for technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). Jointly with the Commonwealth Secretariat, ITC analysed major bottlenecks and concerns in six developing countries for issues such as participation in international standard-setting and implementation and identifying technical assistance needs in the areas of TBT and SPS. ITC has developed training packs on TBT as well as on SPS issues for its partners.
    • Training packs on agreements in key sectors for developing countries such as textiles and clothing and agriculture help to create awareness among businesses about the implications of implementing the WTO agreements in these areas.
    • JURIS International, ITC's trilingual legal database, provides easy online access to all WTO agreements through a set of business-related keywords. The database also refers to the Business Guide to the World Trading System.
    • ITC has produced a GATS Consultation Kit and GATS training modules for use by service industry associations.
    • ITC uses information and communication technologies to organize virtual networking events, such as e-mail discussions and videoconferences, on multilateral trading system-related subjects.

    Other technical cooperation services

    • Information technology. Round tables for the private sector emphasize the business implications of the WTO's Information Technology Agreement, the Agreement on Basic Telecommunication Services, the Agreement on TBT, the Agreement on SPS Measures and the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights as they relate to the information technology sector.
    • E-trade Bridge for SMEs. This programme assists enterprises to gain awareness of, and competence in, e-trade issues. It helps trade support institutions and strategy-makers to identify human and other resources, infrastructure and related assets, networks and business information that are essential for e-facilitated trade development. The programme assists with the application of e-business tools by enterprises, the creation of e-support programmes within the trade support network and the elaboration of national e-trade development strategies.
    • Trade in services. ITC's Trade in Services Unit promotes the commercial implications of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services and the anticipated benefits for developing and transition economies. A services exporting web site helps to meet the increasing demand for technical assistance in trade in services.
    • Government procurement. ITC assists partner countries to develop more efficient and transparent public procurement systems in accordance with WTO rules. ITC also provides assistance to exporting small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to take advantage of the more open public procurement regimes throughout the world.

    Supply-side support

    ITC has addressed supply-side constraints and the dependence on a narrow production and export base of LDCs and other developing countries for almost 40 years. ITC aims to help countries expand and diversify their exports by helping them to develop and market internationally competitive products and services. ITC provides export marketing support to business through advice on product development and adaptation, ensuring value addition and identifying market opportunities for commodities, manufactured goods and services.

    Technical assistance focuses on generic market promotion, designing export marketing strategies, publishing and disseminating business guides and market studies, providing up-to-date market intelligence and extensive networking worldwide. The ultimate aim is to build the capacity of priority sectors in successfully meeting export marketing challenges and guaranteeing supply.

    Integrated Framework

    ITC partners with five agencies (the International Monetary Fund, UNCTAD, the UN Development Programme, the World Bank and WTO) to implement the Integrated Framework (IF) initiative, which aims to "mainstream" trade in development strategies and link it to poverty reduction.

    Typical examples of ITC technical assistance include capacity-building activities to ensure ownership, providing training in information technology and trade information on promising products and services, and formulating export development strategies.

    ITC's goal is to build supply-side capacity in sectors with high export potential and to reduce poverty by creating income opportunities for the poorest people. In partnership with the private sector, ITC reviews export opportunities and advises on export development strategies for labour-intensive sectors.

    ITC contributions to the IF seek to:

    • show immediate and concrete results and promote private sector participation;
    • use, to the largest extent possible, locally available expertise to maximize financial resources and enhance local capacity; and
    • optimize the potential for a broad-based coalition of development partners.

    Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme

    The Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme (JITAP), implemented by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO, aims at helping African countries to integrate into the multilateral trading system. Its primary objective is building capacity for understanding and deriving economic benefits from the multilateral trading system. ITC coordinates the delivery of technical assistance provided under JITAP.

    The programme, launched in mid-1998, is operational in eight African countries, which credit it with helping them to articulate considered positions on issues discussed at the Doha Ministerial Meeting.

    A core element of the programme is building private sector capacity for taking advantage of the benefits of increasing trade liberalization. The public and private sectors work in partnership to develop "bottom-up" export strategies for priority sectors, so that stake-holders own and implement them.

    JITAP was assessed in the course of 2002 and a major recommendation of the evalu-ation was to extend the programme in future to a larger number of African countries. It is anticipated that the next JITAP phase will become operational in January 2003.