Building back on better foundations through trade

3 November 2021
ITC News
The 55th Session of the Joint Advisory Group of the International Trade Centre

Members of the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) of the International Trade Centre (ITC) convened for its 55th session at the Palais des Nations and virtually on 2 November.

During the day-long meeting, JAG members examined the organization’s activities following its Annual Report 2020 and made recommendations for its way forward.

H.E. Ambassador Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the WTO, led the meeting in his capacity as Chair, succeeding H.E. Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, Permanent Representative of Botswana in Geneva, Chair of the 54th JAG session.

On behalf of Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Pedro Moreno, UNCTAD Chief of Staff, commended the joint work with ITC on women’s economic empowerment, e-commerce, and trade facilitation and stressed the importance of the Bridgetown Covenant for recovery efforts and inclusive economic policies.

Xiangchen Zhang, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), shared tangible outcomes from the continued collaboration with ITC on agriculture, green trade, gender, and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). 

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, thanked UNCTAD and WTO, funders, and partner countries for their support. She said that ‘trade has never been more critical in building back on better foundations’, and that ITC will help partner countries to achieve stronger and more stable foundations, to harness a recovery with trade and small businesses at its heart.

In his summary report, Chair H.E. Ambassador Paul Bekkers noted that Joint Advisory Group members commended ITC’s agile response to deliver much needed technical assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for small businesses, women, youth, and vulnerable communities. They expressed their approval for the results shown in the 2020 Annual Report and for the thrust of the Strategic Plan 2022-2025, which was presented during the meeting. Also shared were the findings of the Annual Evaluation Synthesis Report  by ITC’s Independent Evaluation Unit.

In her closing remarks, Pamela Coke-Hamilton thanked the participants for their participation in the middle of a make-or-break climate change conference and with a few weeks before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. She invited all JAG members to share further comments, including on the Strategic Plan 2022-25.

Summarizing the members’ feedback on ITC’s work and future plans, she identified the following priorities:

  1. Keep “going green” in programmes, advocacy, operations.
  2. Help close the digital divide, to build more resilient economies through connectivity and empowered tech entrepreneurs.
  3. Continue strengthening women entrepreneurs.
  4. Show how ITC’s projects support the work of WTO and UNCTAD.
  5. Maintain focus on core constituency of least developed, landlocked, small island development states, small vulnerable economies, and conflict-affected countries.

The report of the meeting will be presented by the Chair to ITC’s parent organizations, the UN Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organization.

All statements shared in the context of the 55th JAG session will be available here.