ITC and SITA: A new era in trade and investment related cooperation(1) (en)
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to address all of you on the occasion of the start of the implementation of SITA (Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa).
In my previous two visits to India as Executive Director of ITC – I was struck by the Indian ethos of VasudaivaKutumbakam (VASUDHAAIVA KOOTUMBAKKAM) “the world is one family”; and Jugaad (JOOGAAD) “creative and out of the box thinking”. I used the first in relation to inclusion and acceptance that one observes in everyday India; and the second to signify the prevalent management practise of doing more with less. Frugal innovation and appropriate technology and process development.
Today, when I see this gathering of SITA’s family of stakeholders I am struck by another phrase - Atithi Devo Bhava (ATHITHIDEVO BHAVAHA) "be the one for whom the Guest is God”. I mention this in the context of the unity that underpins the way we have come together, developed trust; and see value in accepting and working for each other’s good.
When ITC started leading the inception phase of SITA with the focus of using India as the destination market for exports of specific products and services from five East African Countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – through partnerships with the Indian business sector, there was an overwhelming opinion from businesses in both India and the five African Countries:
- The African side saw a lot of value in partnerships – financial, technical and managerial – from the Indian side but were keen to export to wherever they would be most competitive.
- Indian businesses saw value in exploring partnerships with the African side, but not necessarily for export to India, but to the greater African region and third countries.
SITA's name today – Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa - is emblematic of how an interactive and inclusive project design process can result in actual needs being assessed and programmed for the delivery of targeted technical assistance.
Today is SITA's day. It aims to create trade – domestic and international, including to India – through the provision of partnerships between Indian and East African businesses. It aims to foster investments between the two regions.
SITA will benchmark sectors against their closest competitors’, and then devise a step-by-step process for the businesses’ to outcompete, and gain share in the best markets. It is an intelligent blend between development aid and private sector trade and investment.
East African businesses will also be introduced and matched, based on complementarity and attractiveness, with potential Indian partners who they can then work together with to up the game and produce products that are competitive.
SITA will also address the strengthening of the Trade Support Institution Infrastructure in East African Countries through peer learning, adoption of best practices, networking and capacity building. Strong institutions are optimal accelerators’ for growth and sustainability.
SITA’s Partnership Platform will also offer options for enabling policy that improves the business environment across the six SITA countries; and solutions for promotion of investments from India to East Africa.
Allow me to digress for a moment and return to the inception phase of the project and share some anecdotes. This phase was in three stages:
- sensitization; followed by
- needs assessment and project design;
- operationalization of SITA’s Partnership Platform.
SITA’s Second Partnership Platform Meeting was held in Kigali, back-to-back with ITC’s Flagship World Export Development Forum (WEDF).
WEDF was being organized for the first time in Africa, and one of the meetings I had on the side lines of WEDF was with the Minister of Trade of Rwanda. SITA was among the topics of discussion and in this context the Minister mentioned that financing and guaranteeing exports was a major obstacle to trade in the country. He sought ITC assistance under SITA’s framework to carry out a feasibility study on setting up an Export Credit Guarantee entity for Rwanda.
I was able, within forty eight hours, to respond to the Minister that ITC would be able to positively consider this request. This, ladies and gentlemen, was possible because of the strong relationships ITC, through SITA, is endowing itself with. I passed on the Rwandan request simultaneously, to our partner EXIM Bank, and our funder DFID.
Both EXIM and DFID reverted, almost immediately, with positive responses. To cut to the chase, I am pleased to say that the feasibility study for Rwanda’s ECG entity will be undertaken by EXIM Bank on a cost sharing basis with SITA.
This is what partnership and relationships are all about.
Allow me, Mr. Mathur, to pay tribute to EXIM Bank and you for this early win we will clock together with SITA.
In February, SITA in partnership with SEWA BHARAT supported the participation of six women Ethiopian artisans at the Dastakar Bazaar, in New Delhi. This was the first time that these artisans were traveling directly to India to sell their products.
These artisans also benefited from meeting with leading Indian buyers of artisanal products to better understand the needs and trends of the market, and attended a training workshop on design and production techniques.
This activity truly reflects how ITC projects build capacity – “learning-by-doing”. Not easy, sometimes a long hard road, but the payback is almost always manifold.
Tamar, I thank your team at DFID for their support in encouraging this early pilot – very appropriate and a pointer towards many things that need to be set right – and supporting it through to its fruition.
I pay tribute to our partners the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Mr. Munjal, your team ably led by Neerja has been outstanding in executing their mandate. Congratulations and many thanks!
CII and the Department of Commerce of India have collaborated with ITC in fielding two well received workshops on the 'Duty Free Trade Preferences' (DFTP) scheme in Dar Es Salaam and Kampala.
I thank Sumanta for extending the DOC’s support, and Pranav of CII for being the primary resource person.
Many thanks also to Mr. Zuku from the Tanzanian National Chamber of Commerce for providing peer-learning experience to Ugandan colleagues on utilization of the DFTP.
Tomorrow two groups of participants from the meeting here will travel - one group to Bengaluru and Mysuru, and another group to Mumbai - to explore partnerships in the Medicare and pulses sectors respectively.
I have dwelt at length in referring to these activities to illustrate how SITA has already started delivering technical assistance even when being in its design stage. It was the trust and confidence that strong relationships and effective partnerships provide that made this happen.
SITA has reinforced many innovations that I have introduced to enhance ITC’s work culture. We are dismantling silos and working in cross-functional and multi-disciplinary teams. We are reducing lag time – proactive as opposed to reactive.
Most of all we are empowering our experts to venture ahead – calculated risk-readiness is increasingly becoming norm.
Blue-sky thinking and innovative design are being embedded in our organizational DNA. Value-for-money and bang-for-buck are our calling cards.
SITA and ITC will continue evolving, improving, innovating and delivering better results.