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    Uncovering Services Trade Opportunities


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2006

    Increased media coverage helps raise awareness about services and the needs of service exporters.

    ITC is helping to keep services in the spotlight.

    Services contribute to jobs and economic growth in all countries. With efficient service economies, countries in the developing world can tap into global and regional trade opportunities. ITC's Trade in Services Section is continuing to build awareness about export opportunities in business services through its technical cooperation projects and work with ServiceExportNet, its network of beneficiary countries.

    A series of "Bridges Across Borders" networking events among services industry associations is helping to uncover regional business opportunities. An African-Arab meeting took place in Tunisia, in parallel to the International Fair for Services (SISE), where ITC had a booth and organized technical training workshops. Participants from six South American countries met at a Bridges Across Borders meeting in Peru - the first ITC regional networking event in the region. A third event, in November 2006 in South Africa, brings together participants from 13 countries in the Southern African Development Community. They will focus on transportation and logistics, construction and engineering, and financial services.

    Moves toward cooperation

    Results are increasingly visible. In Peru, four franchising associations signed a cooperation agreement and software associations agreed to build a common platform, which will improve regional efficiency in the development of software. The integration of information technology associations is an important step towards an efficient service economy. It is taking place in Sri Lanka, where the Information Technology Enabled Services Association (ITESA) groups 14 companies specializing in business process outsourcing (e.g., data processing, call centres, vocational schools and accountants). ITESA realized that strategic partnership was a major draw for outsourcing projects to the country.

    The formation of networks to help service industries voice common concerns and take collective action is a growing trend. Following a request from the ServiceExportNet, ITC developed a roadmap for developing service coalitions.

    The Nigerian Network of Women Entrepreneurs, organized under ITC tutelage, has held two major meetings, attended by over 200 women from the service sector. Malawi and Swaziland are also forming coalitions. In the Philippines, an ITC project helped create a coalition of service industries. This public-private partnership implemented a project, financed by the Asia Trust Fund, which resulted in the Executive Committee of the Philippines' Export Development Council deciding to formally integrate services into the country's Export Development Plan and Medium Term Development Programme.

    In Sri Lanka, a project to build the capacity of service associations and small and medium-sized enterprises, also financed by the Asia Trust Fund, featured a number of workshops for services associations. The project was a result of an initiative taken by the country's National Chamber of Exporters.

    Lack of awareness is still the number one obstacle to increasing the export of services. Highlighting stories helps to improve understanding about the service sector and the needs of service providers (e.g., establishing credibility). ITC is currently working to develop a toolbox to guide countries in the formulation of their own communications strategies to build awareness. It is also launching an awareness campaign in Africa, which will involve increased coverage from media such as Jeune Afrique. 

    For more information about ITC's programmes in trade in services, contact services@intracen.org