ITC and Commonwealth Secretariat join forces to boost trade

4 October 2018
ITC News
Partnership focus on women and young people and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises

The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat will today sign a new agreement to encourage the establishment and growth of micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including those owned by women and young people.

The new coalition will be formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will be signed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and ITC Executive Director Arancha González in the margins of the the United Nations General Assembly at the Joint Office for Commonwealth Permanent Missions to the United Nations.

It aims to help countries achieve their World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement commitments to simplify, modernize and harmonize export and import processes, with a specific focus on women and young people and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: ‘Here is the stark reality, the global economic landscape is fragile and fraught with challenges. SMEs and businesses run by young people and women, particularly those in developing countries, face a mammoth task to find the right opportunities and markets. When they do, they are often forced to manoeuvre through a maze of red tape and hurdles to move their goods and services across borders.

‘This new agreement with ITC sets out our fresh commitment to working together alongside countries which most need assistance to create effective national export strategies. We will do this principally by collaborating to give young people and women the skills and capacity to grow their businesses, and to open up broader market opportunities by connecting SMEs into networks.’

Welcoming the agreement she described it as an example of how partnership and cooperation accelerate progress towards achieving shared Commonwealth objectives for gender equality and the economic empowerment of women and young people.

Arancha González, the ITC Executive Director said: ‘The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat have been working together for over fifty years to deliver interventions in the Commonwealth that support growth, poverty reduction and job creation. This updated MOU deepens our collaboration and places a specific focus on trade led growth and helping developing countries to achieve the SDGs.

‘Through this partnership we will continue to deliver greater impact by supporting women’s economic empowerment, youth entrepreneurship and by helping countries to reduce barriers to trade.’

The MOU will be signed days before the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting, which will be chaired by the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt. Ministers will discuss implementation of mandates set at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in April this year and saw leaders agree a Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, to combat protectionism and improve multilateral trade.