Press releases

Innovation drives trade and investment promotion at global conference in Morocco

24 November 2016
ITC News
Leaders focus on Africa, digital transformation and innovation at global conference for trade promotion organizations.

(Geneva/Marrakech) Over 200 policymakers, business leaders and representatives of trade and investment promotion organizations from Africa and around the world are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, on 24-25 November 2016 for the 11th Trade Promotion Organization Network World Conference and Awards (WTPO).

The focus is on addressing the future of trade and investment promotion and discussing trends as diverse as the impact of climate change on trade, women's entrepreneurship, standards and e-commerce. The event explores how these agencies can help connect dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to regional and global markets.

The conference is hosted by Maroc Export under the high patronage of King Mohammed VI, in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Spotlight on Africa

Morocco first hosted this event 16 years ago, and this 2016 WTPO is an occasion to examine the evolution of trade and investment promotion and the growing importance of Africa as the next big global pole of growth.

‘We promote free trade, inclusive trade and protection of the environment,’ said Mamoune Bouhdoud, Minister for small and medium-sized enterprises and integration of the informal sector. ‘Using renewable energy to increase competitiveness is possible. Our automobile manufacturing factories are the world’s most competitive – and they are zero-carbon emission factories.’

More than 80 countries were represented at the conference. A high presence from African trade and investment bodies shows the diversity of interest in new trade trends as well as a particular focus on the continent. The conference includes a virtual exhibition featuring 12 African countries.

‘I hope that this world conference will mark the beginning of a genuine African integration within the value chain of global trade,’ said Zahra Maafiri, General Manager of Maroc Export.

‘E-commerce is a powerful means to connect the unconnected to global trade,' added ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘We need to act on both hard and soft infrastructure to make it happen.’

In his keynote address, Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, spoke of the way forward to address turbulence in trade. ‘Slow economic growth, unequal distribution and removal of safety nets create anger. […] Meanwhile, technology is cementing markets, bypassing regulations and unbottling capacity to connect to consumers directly.’

He added: ‘But the robotics revolution is causing reshoring of labour-intensive sectors. So we need new sustainable avenues to leap out of poverty. For countries to break out of the traditional basket of export products […] there must be synergies between policies on investment and trade promotion.’

Getting value for money

‘Trade and investment promotion organizations are crucial partners in ITC’s work to enable SMEs to internationalize,’ said Ms. González. ‘They sustain and multiply the impact of trade-related technical support, and allow SMEs to function with confidence in any location.’

Recent ITC research on the impact of European trade promotion agencies shows that for each dollar invested in these agencies, they generated an additional $87 in exports and an additional $384 for a country’s gross domestic product.

Ms. González noted that trade and investment agencies can enable SMEs to take advantage of value chains in a profitable, sustainable manner, especially by building on regional initiatives to develop value chains among neighbouring countries.

The winners of a global competition to reward excellence in trade promotion will be announced at a ceremony in the evening. The awards focus on innovative solutions to help SMEs compete sustainably in international markets.

Creating regional networks

The conference has already served as a springboard for a new regional network of eight Arab states, which met just ahead of the event. Trade and investment promotion organizations from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, State of Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates created the Arab Countries Trade and Investment Organizations Network (ACTION) to boost business linkages across the Middle East and North Africa.

A virtual ‘Made in Africa’ exhibition features African trade and investment promotion organizations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Join us on Facebook for live interviews, and follow @ITCnews on Twitter for the latest updates in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Join the conversation using #WTPO16.

ITC on Facebook:

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Read ITC Executive Director Arancha González’s opening speech in English and French:

See our publication: Investing in Trade Promotion Generates Revenue

Learn more about the 11th Trade Promotion Organization Network World Conference:

About the International Trade Centre: ITC 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 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

About Maroc Export: Maroc Export is Morocco’s national trade promotion agency contributing to the development of the national economy in foreign countries. Established in 1976 and under the supervision of the Ministry Delegate to the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy, in charge of Foreign Trade, Maroc Export works for the promotion of exports of industrial products, services and all products, except foods, phosphates and derivatives, tourism and crafts that have specific organs.

For further information:

Susanna Pak, Media Officer
M: +212 655 625 890
E: pak [at] (pak[at]intracen[dot]org)

Maroc Export
Chaimaa Bourass, Press Officer
T: +212 522 30 22 10
M : +212 668 16 50 05
E: bourass [at] (bourass[at]marocexport[dot]gov[dot]ma)