ITC and multinationals explore areas of cooperation

19 April 2013
ITC News

ITC Executive Director Patricia Francis met with members of The GBR (Geneva Business Roundtable) earlier this week to discuss areas of cooperation ranging from supply chain management training to members’ participation in an ITC-led initiative to increase the exports of women-led enterprises in developing countries.
The GBR, founded in 1999, brings together major multinationals and officials from the Geneva-based international organizations and member state missions to the World Trade Organization to exchange views on how to best support the multilateral trade system.
ITC would like to have first-hand information on the bottlenecks multinational enterprises (MNEs) encounter when trying to source from developing country SMEs, so that the organization can advise its beneficiary countries of the right direction to take and at the same time develop the right training and development programmes for export-ready SMEs, Ms Francis said. 'Countries that cannot become part of global supply chains are becoming increasingly marginalized in world trade, and stuck with commodity exporting,' she said. 'ITC is looking to create partnerships with corporations, to more effectively build the capacity of SMEs and achieve Export Impact for Good.' This issue of integrating SMEs into supply chains will be the subject of this year’s World Export Development Forum, she added.
Ms. Francis and members of The GBR discussed some key areas for ITC-MNE collaboration. For example, the companies learned that they could join ITC’s Global Platform for Sourcing from Women Vendors, established in 2010 to increase the share of corporate, government and institutional contracts awarded to women-owned businesses. With a membership purchasing in excess of US $700 billion in goods and services annually and developing country suppliers from 40 countries, the Platform has facilitated sales of more than US $20 million over the last two years, said Meg Jones, who runs ITC’s Women and Trade programme.
Company members of The GBR were also introduced to ITC programs on supply chain management. ITC offers a Modular Learning System on Supply Chain Management (MLS-SCM) to potential subcontractors of MNEs in developing countries, thereby increasing the ratio of locally sourced products and services by multinationals. 'Many SMEs are not able to compete on quality and price because they do not have their own supply chains under control,' said Kofi Essuman, who manages the ISO-certified programme.
A third area of proposed collaboration was ITC’s programme in the agro-food sector, which works with export-ready SMEs, assisting them in improving the quality of their produce and in finding new markets, said Ian Sayers, who heads the programme. 'We work to make sure that enterprises on the ground become more capable partners,' he said.
'There is a lot of potential for cooperation,' said President of The GBR, Stephanie Rada Zocco, in closing the meeting. 'ITC is engaged in some very important work in support of the multilateral trade system. ITC is also unique as a UN agency in focusing on the private sector,' she said. 'Our members naturally appreciate that.'