ITC issues Annual Report on work in 2017

2 July 2018
ITC News
Report describing ITC’s interventions and impact to be discussed at the Joint Advisory Group on 10 July

A new market intelligence tool for would-be exporters to access information on tariffs, non-tariff requirements, and documentation procedures in potential target markets. A headline initiative on women’s economic empowerment now poised to connect over 1 million women entrepreneurs to world markets by 2021. An estimated $646 million worth of international trade and investment deals catalysed. Comprehensive support for West African countries’ efforts to boost intra-regional trade.

These are among the highlights of the International Trade Centre’s 2017 activities covered in its new annual report. The report will serve as the basis for discussions at the 10 July session of the Joint Advisory Group (JAG), the annual meeting at which government delegates review ITC’s activities and make recommendations for its future work to the joint agency’s parent institutions, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

The report opens by setting out the economic context in which ITC operated in 2017, a year marked by healthy global growth for output and commerce, but strong political headwinds against trade and multilateral cooperation more generally. With market-opening initiatives still moving ahead within some regions, ITC’s flagship research report, the SME Competitiveness Outlook, looked at the relationship between regional trade agreements and increased cross-border value chain activity – and at what micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) could do to position themselves to take better advantage of regional trade.

ITC organizes its interventions into fifteen programmes that cut across six focus areas: providing trade and market intelligence; building a conducive business environment; strengthening trade and investment support institutions; connecting to value chains; promoting inclusive and green trade; and supporting regional economic integration and South-South links. The report describes each programme’s key achievements for 2017. One major milestone: the number of women entrepreneurs that partners of ITC’s SheTrades initiative have pledged to connect to international markets surpassed one million, over two years ahead of the initial target date.

For each of the six main focus areas of ITC's work, the report includes two case studies to illustrate the impact ITC projects are having on the ground from Afghanistan to Colombia. Three ‘ITC innovates’ stories highlight new initiatives. One such story covers the Global Trade Helpdesk, an online tool jointly developed by ITC, the WTO, and UNCTAD to serve as a one-stop-shop for MSMEs seeking information on potential trading partners. Another describes how ITC enabled African producers of high-quality coffee to reach international buyers through online auctions, resulting in price premiums as high as 160%.

The report also includes a section on corporate results with financial information and human resources management trends, such as ITC’s work to achieve gender parity at all professional levels. It also describes ITC’s major events, communications outreach, and partnerships with public and private sector organizations in 2017.

ITC's 'extra-budgetary' expenditures – funded by voluntary project-related contributions that are distinct from the annual contributions from the WTO and the UN – were just over $46 million in 2017. ITC market intelligence, business-to-business connections, and support to trade and investment institutions leveraged these contributions into an estimated $646 million in trade and investment value – about $14 of exports and investments for each dollar in extra-budgetary funding. ITC prioritizes the countries and communities where the case for extra support to tap into international markets is the strongest: 86% of country-specific assistance went to least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states, fragile states, and sub-Saharan Africa. Of the more than 15,000 enterprises that ITC supported in 2017 to improve their competitiveness or connect to buyers, 41% were owned and operated by women. A project pipeline totalling $170 million attests to healthy demand for ITC services.

“Ensuring that all people, in all countries, are able to share in the gains from trade and technological progress would go a long way towards calming the storms now buffeting global economic relations,” ITC Executive Director Arancha González wrote in her foreword to the report. “ITC remains committed to making trade work for the 99%.”

To read ITC’s Annual Report 2017, click here.