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    Trade Promotion Organizations in Turbulent Times


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2002

    "Staying relevant" are the key words for this issue of Trade Forum. What direction should trade promotion organizations (TPOs) take in turbulent business times, to help their clients remain competitive and stay relevant to them?

    The new Doha round of trade negotiations is proof of the trend towards liberalization and harmonization of trade rules and practices. Yet globalization has its critics, there are shifts in investor confidence and signs of rising protectionism exist. Meanwhile, information and communications technologies continue to open up new markets and change the way businesses operate.

    TPOs need to refocus and adopt a "total competitiveness approach" to help their exporters succeed in a turbulent trade environment. The traditional approach, based on identifying foreign market opportunities, is no longer enough. TPOs need to evaluate core strengths in their countries and create the capacity to adapt to changing trade opportunities.

    TPOs must also ensure that trade development strategies contribute to overall economic development and particularly poverty reduction, and need to explain more clearly to the general public the role of trade as an engine of growth.

    How are TPOs adjusting their outlook and services to stay relevant? In this Trade Forum issue, trade promotion leaders from around the world bring their perspective, drawing upon the cases they presented at the 4th World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations, held in Beijing in May 2002.

    This biannual event has gained in importance and recognition since it was first held in Cartagena, Colombia in 1996. It is the only gathering of its kind, where TPO leaders from North and South can meet to share their experiences in a frank manner.

    Elsewhere in this issue, you will find an article on market opportunities for organic products in the United States, a follow-up to a popular article from an earlier issue on the market for organic products in Europe.

    As always, we provide the latest on ITC events, new publications and information products. We encourage you to make the most of this information, which is increasingly available via the Internet.

    On a final note, we continue to welcome your feedback on Trade Forum articles; we take your views into account as we shape future editions. We also encourage you to share relevant articles with your network - by reprinting articles in your own periodicals or by linking Trade Forum web site articles to your site. Again, please let us know when you do this - it helps us understand the type of reporting on trade development issues that best serves you, our readers.