ITC statement at the multistakeholder partnership dialogue - SIDS conference
Speech by the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre at the multistakeholder partnership dialogue - Session 1: Sustainable economic development - SIDS conference on 1 September 2014, Apia, Samoa
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ITC commends the Government of Samoa for the excellent organisation of this event and the warm welcome extended to all.
Partnerships allow Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to address the challenges that are too complex for a single small island state to overcome alone. They allow concrete actions to be taken with higher effectiveness, accountability and in a more integrated manner. For the ITC, we see assistance in terms of providing solutions. And for SIDS, to achieve inclusive sustainable development, the key is providing integrated solutions that take into account the economic, social and environmental dynamics of an island state.
As an international organisation of both the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations with a specific and unique mandate to work with small and medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in developing and transition economies, partnerships are fundamental to our work. Our aim is to help SMEs internationalise, realising their potential as vectors of growth, job creation and development. At ITC, we refer to this as the ‘three Es’: Entrepreneurship for Employment and Economic growth. For entrepreneurs to be successful, they need connections with buyers. For entrepreneurs in small island developing states, the physical and virtual connectivity challenges present major hurdles. Our experience in SIDS is that partnerships between public and private sector actors can turn adversity to advantage. Think of tourism: That same body of water that divides islands is the magnet for cruise ships.
ITC has a long history of supporting SIDS. We help these countries to identify the trade-related constraints which may hinder their deeper integration into world markets and work with them to craft solutions to address these problems. In the Caribbean we have worked to build institutions, identify non-tariff barriers to trade and to develop national and sectorial export strategies; in the SIDS in the Indian Ocean and Africa such as Mauritius we have collaborated on trade facilitation; and in the Pacific we are working on helping to identify potential value chains, and on women and trade. It is this last intervention we will be launching here at this conference.
How to craft a project to foster women’s entrepreneurship in the Pacific that could turn the tourist tala (Samoan currency) into development dollars? At ITC, we are this year celebrating 50 years of providing trade-related technical assistance. We consulted other veterans in the field, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and in particular, Pacific Islands Trade and Invest. We met with officials of the governments of Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand. And we spoke to buyers, sellers and representatives of institutions that represent both. As a result of these consultations, a project was crafted to deliver on the three Es – Entrepreneurship, Employment and Economic - growth in a way that simultaneously helps states meet their commitment to the Millennium Development Goal 3, through the economic empowerment of women.
Women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship must be an integral part of the SIDs agenda not only because it creates jobs but especially because women reinvest an average of 90% of their income back into their families and communities, which helps to improve health and education outcomes. ITC helps women derive greater economic benefit from their participation in export-oriented value chains, and improve the export competitiveness of goods and services supplied by women entrepreneurs.
Distinguished representatives, in this context, it is my pleasure to announce three partnerships today.
Partnership 1: Economic Empowerment of Women in Samoa
This project widens the corridor for business women to better access government procurement opportunities. In partnership with the National University of Samoa, ITC is building the capacity of procurement officers to implement the guidelines on public procurement and improve the integration of businesswomen as suppliers.
Working in partnership with trade support institutions on the ground, in particular the Small Business Enterprise Centre, ITC transfers skills and knowledge to women suppliers of goods and services to equip them to meet requirements and prepare bids in response to government procurement calls for tender. ITC’s Guide to Leveraging Public Procurement in Support of Women-Owned Enterprises will be launched at the Women Vendors Exhibition Forum in Kigali, Rwanda on 15th September 2014.
Partnership 2: Economic Empowerment of Women in Papua New Guinea
Bilum is a unique product immediately identifiable with Papua New Guinea. In close partnership with Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, ITC works to create consistent demand in Australia, as well as develop new markets in Europe and the United States of America. Select project beneficiaries have received training at the London School of Fashion and Parsons the New School for Design (New York) in design techniques to improve marketability.
To facilitate integration into the formal sector and access to export markets, ITC is working with the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) of Papua New Guinea to organise women bilum weavers into legally registered associations. Members are being assisted in the preparation of business plans and essential production-related techniques. Market development is articulated around the rich artistic, cultural and anthropological content of bilum. Women bilum producers’ ownership of the branded designs will ensure maximum addition and retention of value. ITC is working with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to achieve this outcome.
Partnership 3: Economic Empowerment of Women in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, the project contributes to national policy directives on trade, providing updates to the National Trade Development Committee. Under this component of the project, women small-holder farmer groups are organized into a registered association. The women’s association is linked to key sector associations such as the Farmers’ Association in Management and Trade. Capacity is then built for these associations to provide direct services to members in key areas such as production planning, quality controls, packaging, logistics and marketing.
In partnership with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme, and the Vanuatu Hotels and Restaurants Association, ITC is working to link producers to the tourism sector, supplying hotels and restaurants with produce. Training in supply chain management is delivered to the hotels and restaurants engaged in the project, with capacity building of women suppliers to meet the required high standards.
The Women and Trade Programme is supported by the governments of Australia, United Kingdom and Norway. In particular, the Government of Australia is providing AUD 3 million to ITC for the implementation of this project. This, in part, realizes the Government of Australia’s AUD 320 million pledge to empower women in the Pacific region during the 10-year period from 2012.
ITC would like to thank all our partners for investing their time and talents in the economic empowerment of women through trade. This is as critical in the Pacific as it is in all SIDS.We invite you to share with us your ideas on integrating women entrepreneurs in SIDS into the global economy at a cocktail event on 2 September where we will launch our project on the Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific. Together with His Excellency, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, we look forward to welcoming you to the Faleata Sports Complex CM5 at 5:00pm tomorrow night. Please also do pass by the ITC booth in the SIDS Village for further information.