ITC advocacy on Aid for Trade fosters global competitiveness
The International Trade Centre (ITC) aims to foster sustainable impact in developing countries through Aid for Trade. This is done through ITC assistance in improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and linking them to export markets with the objective of creating jobs and incomes, and contributing to the empowerment of women and environmental sustainability, said ITC’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Ashish Shah. He was briefing the visiting Director of the US State Department’s Office for Human Security, Stephen O’Dowd, on the work of the ITC at its headquarters in Geneva on 20 March 2014.
‘We help to build sector competitiveness in goods and services through targeted support in building the productive capacities of SMEs and helping them to integrate into regional markets and adding global value,’ said Mr Shah. ‘We provide training and capacity building to enable these enterprises to access markets by assisting them in developing product quality to meet international standards. We also help in improving product design, branding, packaging and marketing, in addition to assistance in enhancing supply chain management. We also work with policy makers to ensure that the voice of the private sector is heard in the formulation of trade policies, and by working with trade support institutions to build their capacities to provide support to businesses. ’
Mr Shah outlined the importance of partnerships with other UN agencies, which included the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on trade facilitation between the ITC and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to work together in helping developing countries to meet their Trade Facilitation commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement that was endorsed by member countries in Bali last December.
Mr O’Dowd was introduced to the ITC’s trade intelligence tools (Trade Map, Investment Map and Standards Map) which provide information on trade flows, tariffs, foreign direct investment flows, and voluntary standards. He was also briefed on the ITC’s work on trade and the environment which supports the global drive towards the development of a green economy by helping exporters to deal with carbon and climate-related challenges. The Women and Trade programme was also shared with Mr O’Dowd on ways in which the ITC has facilitated women entrepreneurship through business matchmaking and promoting access to trade. Information on the ITC’s flagship Ethical Fashion Initiative was also presented, outlining the work to reduce global poverty by strengthening the capacities of developing country micro-entrepreneurs from the informal sector, especially women, and connecting them as suppliers within the value chain of the international luxury fashion industry.