Gaining market intelligence through ITC tools
ITC’s suite of market intelligence tools contributed to US$ 126 million in exports in 2014, according to feedback from users. The tools, which are accessible online for free, are particularly instrumental to users in LDCs, where local sources of trade intelligence are often unavailable.
‘The tools have opened my eyes to new markets I had never considered before,’ wrote an exporter from Morocco in a recent anonymous survey. The exporter uses the platform to obtain information on prices and competitors before making a decision to target specific markets.
The tools provide data to help users identify market opportunities. Exporters can use them to gauge the size of potential markets and how fast demand has grown for particular goods and services; which countries supply those markets; which have gained or lost market share; and what tariff and non-tariff barriers they themselves would face compared with competitors based elsewhere. Exporters can also use the tools to identify potential importers and distributors for their products.
‘ITC’s market analysis tools are of great importance to us, as we are a country where there are major issues with the reliability of the statistics available,’ wrote an exporter from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the recent survey. The user added that with adequate support and training, even more exporters in the country would utilize the tools.
Market analysis improves TISIs service delivery
TISIs use the market analysis tools to create customized market intelligence for their members and clients. In a survey carried out at the end of 2014, 94% of TISIs respondents reported that the tools had a positive or very positive impact on the services they deliver. Of the respondents, about a third came from LAC, just under a fifth each from Africa and Asia- Pacific region, 10% from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and 9% from Arab States.
Surendra Nath Gongal, Deputy Director of Nepal’s Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), has delivered over 10 training courses in the last five years to groups of SME representatives, chambers of commerce and business associations, both in Nepal and in the wider region.
‘The feedback is always very positive,’ Gongal says. ‘ITC’s tools help trade institutions provide timely and targeted trade-related advice to their private sector clients.’
For ITC, trainers at TISIs such as TEPC are invaluable, as they multiply the number of those with access to the online tools.
‘Access to trade and market intelligence is critical to international business success,’ says Helen Lassen who leads the ITC capacity-building programmes in market analysis. ‘We need to find a way to bring this intelligence to exporters.’
Miguel Carrillo, Chief Executive Officer of the Colombian consulting firm Hamkke, first came across ITC’s market analysis tools during his university studies in the Republic of Korea - he has used the online platform ever since. He advises companies, mostly SMEs, on business strategies and on ways they can benefit from trade agreements.
‘The market analysis tools help us to analyse potential markets for our clients and the production chains into which they could be inserted,’ Carrillo says.
ITC tools assist policymaking
Policymakers and government officials use the market analysis tools to monitor national trade performance and collect inputs for the preparation of policy decisions and trade negotiating positions. In the 2014 survey, 92% of policymakers reported that ITC tools helped them to make better-informed trade policy decisions. The policymakers were from across the world, with 28% from LAC, 20% each from Africa and the Asia-Pacific, 12% from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and 11% from the Arab States.
‘The Agency has utilized data from ITC and the market analysis tools to provide input into Zambia’s trade negotiations in SADC, COMESA, the COMESA-EAC- SADC tripartite and WTO negotiations,’ says Jonathan Simwawa, Acting Director of Export Development at the Zambia Development Agency, referring to talks involving the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the East African Community (EAC).
‘The Zambian government also uses ITC market analysis tools in deciding on whether to grant requests for protection from domestic industries,’ Simwawa says.
This article is a part of ITC's SME Competitiveness Outlook 2015.