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    From the Editor


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2000

    Old business in new ways, but also new business opportunities: this is what e-trade is all about.

    The global marketplace in many ways is a virtual one, but it is driven by the same business realities as traditional exchanges in local market squares. At the same time, new technologies bring us new opportunities to trade goods and services in far-away places. The technologies also open up completely new product and service niches for developing countries.

    Demystifying e-commerce, so that businesses and governments can take advantage of it, is essential. Internet is new to many; some people are still uncomfortable with the technology; and the best ways to take advantage of it are still emerging. Basic business needs, however, remain the same. Looking for business information? Closing a deal? Following up on a sale? Delivering a service? Simply communicating with new clients or business partners? One can use the Internet to do all of these things more effectively, at lower cost, and with greater outreach than was possible before.

    If there are real opportunities, false expectations also abound. This magazine issue addresses both, with e-trade perspectives from government, academia and business. The articles highlight challenges, but go beyond to outline solutions that developing countries can apply to their own needs.

    Research and analysis provide facts that help to shatter myths. In the Close Up section, we see how Australian government agencies have worked with universities to understand and maximize the impact of the Internet on small businesses looking to trade internationally. ITC's recent experience in co-organizing the world's first Internet coffee auction also provides "lessons learned".

    Exploiting export niches such as back office operations is a fast-growing opportunity, which is presented in the Market Profile section. The Close Up section also shows how a "can-do" attitude adapted to a local setting can go a long way: see the interview about RCP, a Peruvian Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a difference, and the story of Tortasperu, a start-up microbusiness that took advantage of RCP's network and training centres. A general understanding of key issues such as e-finance trends (outlined in the Exporting Better section) is another step towards becoming e-competent.

    ITC can help developing countries become competent in e-commerce, and leverage it to boost trade. ITC's programmes and services, outlined in the ITC Speaks section, are designed to raise awareness, transfer knowledge and build e-competitiveness in an increasingly digital world.