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    Path for Growth Confirmed at ITC Annual Meeting


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2003

    With an increase in delivery of 21%, 2002 was a very good year for ITC. Its achievements underline ITC's relevance to trade development and confirm a path for growth in providing trade-related technical assistance.

    ITC received unprecedented support from donors and beneficiaries at its annual meeting, the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on the International Trade Centre (Geneva, 28 April to 2 May 2003). Over 50 interventions - a record number - were made at the meeting. The speakers ranged from the Group of 77 + China, to the African Union, to Benin (representing least developed countries) and a wide selection of both donor and beneficiary countries.

    Partnership and complementarity

    Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, emphasized the importance of continued close and complementary collaboration between ITC, UNCTAD and WTO. Given ITC's commitment to improve the competitiveness of the SME sector in developing and transition economies, he expected ITC to play an important role in the run-up to UNCTAD XI, of which a central theme is enhancing competitiveness. Mr. Ricupero noted that UNCTAD and WTO had worked effectively in setting up an autonomous, independent ITC, and that both organizations were very proud of ITC and its achievements. "ITC is the embodiment of cooperation," he said.

    Deputy Director-General Kipkorir Aly Azad Rana of WTO commended ITC for its good work in consolidating public-private sector networks in developing countries and in focusing its activities on the realization of the Doha Development Agenda. He encouraged ITC in its extensive efforts to ensure that the business community understands the business implications of the multilateral trading system. ITC has an important role to play in assisting countries to diversify their production base and exports and overcome domestic supply-side constraints. This will enable them to make further use of increased market access opportunities that are being negotiated as part of this round of trade talks.

    Both acclaimed ITC's recent trade development accomplishments, as well as its 21% increase in delivery in 2002. "By any standard, ITC had an exceptional year," noted J. Denis Bélisle, ITC's Executive Director.

    Trade development vision

    Mr. Bélisle took the occasion to outline his vision for the organization's future development, as he begins his fourth three-year term as Executive Director of ITC in June. "We are a niche player in trade-related technical assistance, with a specific and well-defined role to play. Our key assets are our specialized expertise, our breadth of experience in the developing world and our network of partners. Our proposed strategy for growth rests essentially on three principles. The first is to remain focused on what we do best, but do it better, and do more of it: to expand our partnerships and increase the number of countries to which we provide assistance."

    "We recognize that the business of trade-related technical assistance is changing," he added. "ITC will combine forces with other trade development organizations in order to maximize the contribution of trade to socio-economic development; to build capacities to participate effectively in trade negotiations and take advantage of related commercial opportunities; to encourage public-private sector partnerships in export strategy development; and to contribute to building export competitiveness within the business community."

    ITC's second principle for growth is to continue to innovate in technical assistance approaches and programmes in a manner consistent with the new requirements. It proposes using innovation and originality as two of the yardsticks to orientate future performance. Yet, ITC does not propose to "go it alone". It will seek to broaden its participation in multi-agency initiatives, such as the Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme for Africa (JITAP) and the Integrated Framework (IF), and will forge new alliances with other centres of excellence.

    Mr. Bélisle concluded: "The third and last principle of ITC's plan for growth - but by no means the least important - is to work towards greater field-level impact, increasing enterprise competitiveness and national capacity to service the export community and ensuring that the export sector contributes to employment generation and poverty-reduction.

    "The bottom line is to become more targeted and assertive at doing our job, and doing it in a cost-effective way."

    Countries receiving ITC support endorsed its strategy for growth and continued commitment to focusing technical assistance on the competitiveness needs of Africa and least developed countries. They also confirmed support to ITC's efforts in helping the business community understand how they can benefit from the Doha Development Agenda.

    Voluntary contributions

    Several governments announced voluntary contributions to ITC: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Kenya thanked donors on behalf of recipient countries for their generous contributions. Mr. Bélisle also thanked donors for their continuing support, and underlined the positive effect of multi-year contributions on the programming of ITC activities.

    ITC's web site (http://www.intracen.org/aboutitc/inbrief/main.htm) contains ITC's Annual Report for 2002 in English, French, Spanish and Russian. It also has the full report of the JAG meeting, the Executive Director's opening statement, relevant press releases, and fact sheets about programmes highlighted during the Informal Session of the JAG.