Finland to provide over €3 million in support to ITC (en)
(Geneva) The government of Finland and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today concluded an agreement that will see Helsinki provide €3.06 million in funding through 2020 to support ITC’s work to foster inclusive growth, development, and job creation through trade.
Under the terms of the agreement, signed in Geneva by Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen and ITC Executive Director Arancha González, the Finnish grants are not tied to specific projects with pre-defined deliverables. Instead, ITC will have considerable discretion over how the funds are deployed in pursuit of the agency-wide goals set out in its strategic plan for 2018 to 2021.
This flexibility is important, since it affords ITC the ability to pioneer, test and roll out new tools and approaches to enabling micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries to connect to international markets. It also allows ITC the freedom to shift spending in light of changing circumstances to wherever it will yield the highest return on investment in terms of impact.
ITC’s strategic plan for 2018 to 2021 frames how the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization will work to maximize trade’s contribution to achieving Agenda 2030 goals for eliminating extreme poverty, reducing economic and gender inequality, and promoting environmental sustainability. Because MSMEs account for the vast majority of businesses and jobs, ITC focuses on bolstering their international competitiveness so that they are able to share in the gains from trade. To support a more inclusive distribution of development gains, ITC works with women, youth, and marginalized groups in developing countries to empower them to take advantage of economic opportunities arising from international markets. ITC also works with trade policymakers and regulators to make the business environment more conducive to trade growth.
Of the Finnish contribution, which will be disbursed between 2018 and 2020, €1.5 million is ‘un-earmarked’, meaning that ITC can allocate the resources as it sees fit within the parameters of its strategic plan. The remaining €1.56 million is ‘soft earmarked’ for two of the six focus areas of ITC’s work: connecting to international value chains; and promoting and mainstreaming inclusive and green trade. This means ITC will allocate the latter funds to initiatives seeking to foster greater value addition within developing economies where production for domestic and export markets tends to be dominated by unprocessed commodities instead of packaged and branded merchandise. These funds will also go to projects that seek to leverage global markets to benefit women, young people, poor and vulnerable communities, and environmental sustainability, as well as to use e-commerce to connect MSMEs to international buyers.
“ITC is a longstanding partner for Finland, and this agreement is the latest sign of the alignment between ITC’s mandate and the Finnish government’s development policy priorities,” said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. “ITC shares Finland’s goals, on empowering women and girls, on promoting growth and job creation within developing economies, and placing particular emphasis on strengthening fragile states and least developed countries.”
“On behalf of ITC and the people, communities, and businesses we work with, I would like to express thanks to the people and government of Finland,” she added.
Minister Virolainen underlines the importance of the cooperation between ITC and Finland, “We want to join forces to support the valuable work of ITC. The organisation's efforts to develop especially the entrepreneurship and economic empowerment of women, youth, displaced persons and the informal sector in developing countries lie at the heart of the Finnish development policy priorities”.
Note to the Editor
About ITC - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
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