ITC Executive Director closing remarks at the 12th World Trade Promotion Organizations Conference (WTPO)
We have come to the end of a very successful two days of discussion, collaboration and action.
The theme of this conference - using ecosystems to deliver for growth- describes only the surface of the conversation that has occupied us this week in Paris. Ian Goldin summed it up “what you did 10 years ago, is no longer fit for purpose”
And I hope that this week you have collected ideas and good practices that you can integrate into your own work and improve the service that you offer to your clients.
In this period where -as Pascal Lamy mentioned this morning- multilateralism is as risk, TIPOs have a critical role to play. As some countries want to close borders you have recognized that to survive you need to open channels of communication and collaboration with each other. Your ability to shape the outcomes that will eventually emerge from this period of disruption and transition in the world of trade should not be underestimated.
At the conference opening, I referred to three key themes:
- The transition from a focus on export growth, to a broader objective for inclusive economic growth
- The dis-intermediation effect of platforms, and the new opportunity for TIPOs to be trustbuilders
- And the shift from playing solo, to becoming a chef d’orchestre, ensuring that all the actors in the ecosystem play in harmony, from the same musical score.
On further reflection you will need to not only lead the orchestra but play a part in writing the symphony.
Over the last two days we heard how, to deliver on good trade and investment, Pro Cordoba created new partnerships with civil society and NGOs to deliver technology to resolve humanitarian crises. We heard about the new partnerships formed in Costa Rica between the investment promotion agency and academia to ensure that young people were being trained for the jobs of tomorrow.
We heard from Spain and Switzerland how partnerships with large private sector technology companies has changed the digital threat to a competitive asset, and created mutual value.
And we heard about the radical shift at Business France with their new “strategic backbone” and shared service agreements with the Chamber and the export financing agency at home, and the private sector providers abroad.
We heard examples of innovation reflected in the award winners that we celebrated last night. As I mentioned before there is no such thing as a lost solution and I look forward to seeing how the many ideas and solutions raised lead to results and greater impact.
Technology and the digital economy will play a huge role in how TIPOs become more agile and responsive. During the discussion with technology experts we learnt of the new technology based platforms and tools that are creating opportunities to use big data for all. These private sector players must be part of your ecosystem for tomorrow, helping you to use digital to build your competitive assets.
One of the best soundbites came from Marike de Peña of the Benlino Farmer Union. She reminded us that we have to make a choice - what sort of trade do we want? Trade that destroys the planet and deepens inequalities, or trade that is a positive force for development.
In this rapidly changing world, the work you do remains deeply relevant. But perhaps the way you deliver must change.
Both Mme Gao, Chairwoman of CCPIT and Pascal Lamy encouraged us to ensure that the forces and mechanisms that bind us are stronger than those that push us apart. I am confident that this conference is a mechanism to connect and support you as agents of change in your countries and in your regions.
This week has been the scene of many important initiatives. ITC has signed new agreements to co-operate with institutions in both China and Costa Rica and we have pledged our support for further assistance to many more of you. We have launched publications including one on SME competitiveness in St. Lucia.
Representatives of several Arab Countries met to shape their new TPO network with input from REDIBERO, UEMOA and ETPO, the networks from Latin America, Europe and West Africa.
We had 21 African nations- through the MOPSE network- in a unique workshop to share ideas for collaboration and innovation; and my TIPO Advisory Board members, met to share their challenges and opportunities, helping us to shape the workplan we will deliver for you in 2019 and 2020.
We discussed the importance of Partnerships and investing in good Practices and discussed how we can collate and share these best practices and look to develop a methodology for management of these ecosystems.
We highlighted the importance of Strategies and exploring what is the new business model for TIPOs that helps you better articulate both trade and investment functions.
We discussed the importance of Metrics and linking these metrics to the SDGs to build a narrative that shows your relevance to the current global agenda.
And we highlighted the need to invest in Skills: Invest in materials for TIPO skill building, Improve identification of necessary critical skills and explore collaboration amongst yourselves on mechanisms to better share skills and experience.
TIPOs are a unique bridge between the public and private sector, and between national, regional and global actors. You have an opportunity to be an even stronger connecting force for good. I would go even further, and say that with some of your traditional roles being threatened in the digital age, you must become a connecting force. Building trust and not just matching markets. Crafting solutions that respond to multiple priorities in your ecosystem. Becoming a voice for multilateralism and for ‘good trade’. Make this the value proposition at the centre of your strategy.
I leave Paris optimistic partly because of the wonderful examples of the work you do to support small businesses and marginalised groups. And partly because of the conversations that have been started here. But mostly because, in business, even in a digital age, human relationships count as much if not more than ever.
TIPOs have the ability to be agents of change, to choose good trade and to shape the future. It will take imagination, innovation and leadership.
I cannot close without giving my further thanks to Business France for their hospitality and hard work. And to my dedicated staff at the ITC.
To you all, I wish safe travels home, with the optimism, the courage and commitment to deliver inclusive growth for all.
And I am very happy to announce that the winning bid to host the WTPO in 2020 is Ghana and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.