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    The Shape of Trade to Come

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2004

    Trade talks, fighting corruption, outsourcing, value chains, technology and EU enlargement are among the topical issues that affect the shape of trade to come.

    ITC has captured these trends, and their relevance to business in developing countries, in a special report from the World Economic Forum's annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

    For most international business people, "Davos" means the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, a week in the depths of Swiss winter when heads of socially committed companies - all of them doing at least US$ 1 billion in international business - assemble with leading politicians, academics, media and representatives of civil society to look at trends and prospects for the world over the next 12-18 months. In recent years it has meant an even broader debate: an Open Forum, supported by the World Economic Forum but organized by non-governmental organizations concerned with development, has opened the discussion to a broader group than can fit into the Davos Congress Centre, where the Annual Meeting takes place.

    More than ever before, Davos at the end of January reflects how the best-informed decision-makers and activists of all persuasions think the world should go in the coming months to achieve progress on the goals of economic prosperity for whole societies, equitable development and social entrepreneurship. So the Annual Meeting this year heard from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, a sharp critic of international monetary institutions. It discussed globalization and corruption, supply chains and the demands of responsible consumers, as well as public health, blogging (web logs), terrorism and art's contribution to social creativity

    Among the discussions, a select group of these leaders in the Forum's Global Governance Initiative concluded that "the world is failing utterly to put forward the needed effort" for all the UN's major Millennium Goals set for 2015. Rating efforts on a score of 0-10, with 5 representing that half the resources needed to achieve the goals were being devoted to the issues in 2003, the reviewers concluded: "The dismaying finding is that in no case do global efforts merit even a 5." Their scorecard for seven major issues: Peace and security - 3, poverty - 4, hunger - 3, education - 3, health - 4, environment - 3, human rights - 3. (The full report is available at: http://www.weforum.org/site/homepublic.nsf/ Content/Global+Governance+Initiative)

    This led the Annual Meeting to set out a series of proposals for action to recover the momentum both for economic growth and for faster development. We asked a number of journalists who followed the 250 sessions in Davos to report on the issues of particular interest to the ITC community. As a result, we've put together a section on the Doha Development Round, international action against corruption, outsourcing, supply chain transformations, satisfying the new consumer, dealing with digital technology and the impact of EU enlargement on exports in the next few years. At the same time, we indicate where ITC programmes and activities related to these issues can help exporters in developing and transition countries the better to inform themselves and improve their performance.

    Peter Hulm, Contributing Editor to this issue of Forum and a former Reuters correspondent, has coordinated reporting for the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos for 19 years.

    Natalie Domeisen, Editor of Forum magazine, has previously worked for the World Economic Forum.






    ITC and the World Economic Forum

    by Hendrik Roelofsen, ITC

    Headquarters in Geneva is not the only thing that the World Economic Forum and ITC have in common. Both organizations see trade as a positive force for development. Both deal with the business sector - people who actually conduct business - as well as policy-makers. Both have a common interest in global competitiveness - in analysing the trends that make countries winners in trade. Finally, both encourage matchmaking business to spur trade.

    It would only be natural, therefore, that the two organizations would seek to work together, where their efforts can complement each other. ITC's extensive experience in promoting intra-African trade is a case in point. Since 1997, ITC has supported the World Economic Forum in the organization of the annual Africa Economic Summit, by providing a MatchMaking Service for business participants. The Service is greatly appreciated and the outcome, in the form of concrete trade and investment negotiations, adds considerable value to the Summit. This year, for the first time, ITC's MatchMaking Service will be a feature of the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

    ITC also collaborates with the compilation of the World Economic Forum's competitiveness reports. Using data from its Trade Maps, ITC has developed articles and provided statistical backing to a variety of reports on global competitiveness, regional economic reports, environmental studies and information technology studies.

    On two occasions, I had the pleasure to attend "Davos". It represents a unique opportunity to take stock of global issues and to ensure that ITC's work remains relevant to business in developing countries.


    Hendrik Roelofsen (roelofsen@intracen.org) is Director of ITC's Division of Technical Cooperation Coordination.


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