ITC@50 testimonials: The European Commission - Partners in trade

2 July 2014
ITC News
Joint projects between ITC and the European Union is synonymous with great results, writes Andris Piebalgs, the European Commissioner for Development

Most development actors believe strongly that trade is essential for the economic growth and employment that in turn help to fuel development. The European Union (EU) very much shares this belief. Still, our vision of the role that trade can play has evolved significantly over time.

The trade preferences through which we offer exemptions from customs duties and quotas have always been generous, and remain so – one example being the ‘Everything But Arms’ initiative, under which least developed countries have enjoyed fully free access to the EU market since 2005. Overall, the EU’s trade provisions have helped boost exports for some countries, though other countries need more support to increase productive capacities and skills, and to improve the regulatory framework. In response, EU development policy has been addressing these areas more closely, in particular through a sharper focus on the role of the private sector.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) offers world-class expertise in this area – expertise acquired over 50 years of distinguished activity. Its work with enterprises, small traders, policymakers and trade-support institutions make it an extremely valuable partner for donors and, above all, for our partners in developing countries.

When they come together, the European Commission’s trade and development policy and the mission and resources of ITC produce great results. Projects undertaken in Asia, Africa and Latin America – on trade development, export diversification, business environment, SME competitiveness and other key aspects of productive and trade capacity – provide ample proof of how successful our collaboration has been. We are also following with great interest the deployment of ITC knowledge instruments, such as Trade Map, Market Access Map, Standards Map and other online services. The information provided through these services is not easily accessible elsewhere – if at all – and is proving invaluable to the growing number of entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Last but not least, I would like to pay tribute to the remarkable vision and dynamism displayed by the ITC and its Executive Director, along with what I believe to be a sincere openness to explore further coordination avenues with other international organizations. I have every confidence that, drawing on these assets, ITC will remain at the forefront of the development community’s efforts to tackle the major challenges that lie ahead.