ITC’s Executive Director calls for greater effort to help LDCs take an economic leapfrog

27 November 2013
ITC News
Speaking at the European Development Days 2013, Arancha González calls for greater support to vulnerable economies

Arancha González, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), on Wednesday called for greater support to vulnerable economies to help them leapfrog towards their immediate development objectives.

'Poverty, wherever you find it, is unbearable,' she said.

Speaking at the European Development Days 2013, Ms. González said that central to alleviating poverty in the world's most vulnerable economies 'is the need to increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)'. 'Transport costs for operators in LDCs,' she said, 'can be up to 77% of the value of the goods that they are exporting. For SMEs this is a tall burden and a barrier to trade that few manage to leap.'

Ms. González was speaking at a roundtable event entitled 'Vulnerable countries in the post-2015 framework', which was organized by Paris-based think-tank, Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le Développement International (FERDI). The roundtable looked at how specific features of LDCs and other vulnerable economies, especially post-conflict countries, could be taken into account while shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

'At ITC, we are focusing our efforts on increasing the competitiveness of SMEs in LDCs. We believe that they hold the key to lifting people out of poverty. SMEs are a vector that has the potential to unlock untapped economic growth,' Ms. González said.

ITC's Executive Director also highlighted small island developing States (SIDS) as a group to which ITC pays particular attention. She said that efforts to create growth in such countries are focused on enhancing skills and building capacity in their services sectors. 'Services in the SIDS hold the answer to development in these vulnerable countries. Still, to build the services sector, we first need to build skills,' she said.

Ms. González shared the panel with Patrick Guillaumont, President of FERDI; Serge Tomasi, Deputy-Director of the Development Co-operation Directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and Tertius Zongo, former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso.

The European Development Days is an annual conference hosted by the European Commission, which brings together thousands of stakeholders working on development issues. The conference, which is held in Brussels, lasts two days and includes several plenary sessions as well as numerous side events. The main focus of the European Development Days 2013 was the post-2015 development agenda under the theme 'A decent life for all by 2030: Building a consensus for a new development agenda.'

Other notable participants at the European Development Days included Andris Piebalgs, the European commissioner for development, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia, Mahamadhou Issoufou, the President of Niger, and José Maria Neves, the Prime Minister of Cape Verde.