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    From the Editor


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2001 

    A decade ago, the workings of the world trading system interested only a select few. Today, it attracts growing interest from business, as nearly 90% of world trade is now regulated under WTO Agreements, and most products, services and markets are affected. Understanding the implications of the Agreements is not an option: it is necessary to compete globally.

    Many traders in developing countries say they need more information about the World Trade Organization. Some WTO Agreements which entered into force in 1995 have transition periods for developing countries, postponing their implementation. As the transition period winds down, developing countries need to be equipped to take full advantage of the evolving system and influence future directions.

    Navigating through information about the world trading system is not always easy, and spotting information on strategic planning and day-to-day business opportunities can be difficult. Yet business communities in developing countries have an important role to play, as they are best placed to speak of the impact of these Agreements.

    This is where ITC comes in. ITC has business-oriented publications on the implications of the world trading system, relevant web sites, and lists of sources to help point businesses in the right direction. This issue:

    • Outlines benefits. The Agreements require adaptation, at both the company and the national levels, and that brings costs. Yet the system also brings rights and benefits, as outlined in the article drawn from the publication, Business Guide to the World Trading System.

    • Provides shortcuts. To help readers get the shortcuts they need, there is a tear-out poster with an overview of the system; a new section answers "frequently asked questions"; and articles provide tips on where to turn for more information.

    • Offers windows to market opportunities. New negotiations on services are under way; an article provides a closer look at this promising sector for developing countries. Another focuses on the information technology market.

    Other highlights: An article answers exporters' most frequently asked question - how to search for importers. Debunking myths, an article on the world's first coffee auction on the Internet profiles e-commerce as a viable proposition in developing countries; another article focuses on winning export sectors in Africa. And as our readers become more vocal, a new section shares letters from readers.

    As always, we encourage you to use the information in this magazine, and keep us informed about what interests you most.