ITC to focus on innovation, technology at WTO Public Forum

17 September 2013
ITC News
Executive Director Arancha González leads ITC’s participation at the WTO’s largest annual outreach event in Geneva, where topics include e-commerce for trade development and the post-2015 Development Agenda

Innovation and technology will be the buzz words at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Public Forum next month. ITC will showcase solutions that enable smallholders to tap into technological solutions and benefit from the growing electronic commerce (e-commerce) industry.

This year’s event, themed ‘Expanding trade through innovation and the digital economy’, will take place on 1 to 3 October at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. On the afternoon of the first day, ITC will co-host a panel discussion with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and Germany’s Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, called, ‘How to leverage e-commerce for trade development in the ACP countries’.

The joint ITC-ACP Group panel discussion will focus on the potential of e-commerce to create jobs, spur innovation and grow the economy in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific. Panellists will speak about how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from linking to markets through e-commerce, which offers fewer entry barriers than traditional forms of trade and relatively low transaction costs. The session will cover strategies to remove barriers to e-commerce development, make wider use of e-commerce solutions and develop public-private partnerships for technical assistance.

Improving multilateral trade

The Public Forum, which is the WTO’s largest annual outreach event in Geneva, provides a platform for participants to discuss the latest developments in world trade and propose ways of enhancing the multilateral trading system. The event attracts more than 1,500 representatives from government, business, academia, the media and inter-governmental organizations.

The Forum will be ITC Executive Director Arancha González’s first public event since taking office on 1 September. Ms González will deliver welcoming remarks at the ITC-ACP Group panel. The opening statement will be delivered by Ambassador Marwa Kisiri, Head of the ACP Group’s Geneva Office.

Ms González will also speak about promoting technological capacity building and enhancing trade competitiveness in Asian economies at a working session on 2 October, which will be hosted by the World Trade Centre (WTC) Mumbai and the All India Association of Industries. Topics will include the rationale behind technology policies in Asian economies, the impact of technology imports in Asian manufacturing, the impact of research and development on Asian industrial competitiveness, and barriers that developing countries face in accessing new technologies.

On the last day of the event, Ms González will serve as the lead panellist at a workshop about the implications of potential issues of the upcoming Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, for the post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel, organized by the Global Social Observatory, will explore the possibilities of policy convergence between the likely issues in Bali and the priorities of the post-2015 Development Agenda. In particular, the discussion will focus on the development of ‘dynamic partnerships’ that support priority areas, such as free and fair trade to eradicate poverty, encourage sustainable development and create jobs. Ms González will offer her perspectives on the linkages between trade and development. Martin Labbé, Adviser for Online Marketing and Digital Networks at ITC, will be a panellist at the event.

Also on 3 October, Rajesh Aggarwal, Chief of Business and Trade Policy at ITC, will chair a workshop organized by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, called ‘Trade facilitation: addressing consumer and SME interests and concerns in developing countries’.

ITC will provide a booth at the mini innovation corner on all three days of the event to demonstrate the integration of smallholders into export-driven supply chains using information and communications technology.

For more information about ITC’s involvement in the upcoming Public Forum, please visit the ITC @ Public Forum page.