Ministers meet ITC during Global Review
During the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade hosted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 8-10 July, members of ITC’s senior management held a range of bilateral meetings with senior representatives from ITC client countries. On the agenda was stocktaking of past projects and how to structure future cooperation.
The African Union (AU) welcomes ITC’s plan for the development of a successor to the Programme for Building African Capacity for Trade (PACT) II, particularly plans to build local expertise in Africa on connecting SMEs with buyers, said Fatima Haram Acyl, the AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry in a meeting with ITC Acting Deputy Executive Director Ashish Shah on Tuesday. Ms Acyl requested ITC to present a concept note to the AU’s ministerial conference in October. The PACT successor programme would expand to five regional commissions in Africa, up from three under PACT II, and to the African Union Commission (AUC) in supporting the Africa Business Council and in establishing a trade observatory, said Rajesh Aggarwal, Chief of Business and Trade Policy at ITC.
The issue of non-tariff barriers faced by Moroccan exporters took centre stage at the meeting between ITC’s Acting Executive Director Jean-Marie Paugam and Adelkader Amara, Minister of Industry, Commerce and New Technologies of Morocco. They discussed ITC’s recent work in Morocco through the Enhancing Arab Capacity for Trade (EnACT) programme, a recent survey on non-tariff measures facing the country’s businesses, as well as future potential projects. Mr Paugam emphasized the importance of data transparency and accessibility of trade information for trade support institutions and enterprises to enhance their understanding of market trends and identify new markets. He urged Moroccan companies to take advantage of ITC’s market analysis database, which allows exporters and importers to better identify business partners and opportunities abroad.
Continued collaboration was also on top of the agenda during a meeting between ITC and the delegation from Gambia. ‘Everybody is talking about Gambia’s good outcomes here at the Global Review thanks to ITC’s collaboration with us,’ said Kebba S. Touray, Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, talking of the on-going Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification project. ‘We are now very excited about what happens next for the implementation of sector export strategies being developed.’
ITC has recently completed research on the potential for community-based tourism in the country, which was shared with the Gambian delegation. Fatou Mass Jobe Nije, Minister of Tourism, said that development of the tourism sector was a priority for the government. In addition, ITC and Gambia will collaborate on further resource mobilization efforts for the tourism sector and for the implementation of sector strategies.
During a meeting with government officials from Myanmar, Mr. Paugam provided an update on the development of the country’s National Export Strategy (NES) in partnership between the Government and ITC. The NES, which will have a five-year scope, is set to be concluded at the end of 2013. Pwint Swan, Deputy Minister for Commerce, welcomed the development of the NES. He approved an ITC proposal to develop an integrated, multi-year country programme to enhance the export competitiveness of Myanmar’s private sector.
With the support of ITC, Cambodia has been able to strengthen the trade-research capacity of Government officials and national trade support institutions, said Pan Sorasak, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce. He also acknowledged the good progress of the EIF-funded High Value Silk project, managed by ITC. The country is in the process of updating its Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) and Mr Sorasak encouraged ITC to provide inputs to the drafting of the study. He also expressed interest in exploring further collaboration with ITC, for example on developing geographical indications for Cambodian products, including golden silk and rice, as well as on market research and analysis. Another area of potential collaboration could be providing capacity building to the Trade Research and Training Centre, which will soon be established within the Ministry, he told Mr Paugam.
ITC and officials from the Government of Chad reviewed the status of planned projects to enhance the export of gum Arabic and leather. The projects would be realized through the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a mechanism set up under the Aid for Trade initiative to help Least Developed Countries (LDCs) develop their exports. Hamid Mahamat Dahalob, Chad’s Minister of Trade and Industry, said: ‘They are the best projects we [have] ever had. They will bring the best results as they touch on the people, the poor, directly.’ Mr Dahalob and Mr Shah, ITC’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, also discussed possible areas for future collaboration, including a benchmarking programme for the national trade promotion agency, ANIE, the development of a National Export Strategy and the inclusion of Chad in ITC’s multi-country programmes.
Senegal is looking to continue working with ITC in further enhancing the competitiveness of the country’s mango sector, said Alioune Sarr, Minister of Commerce and Industry in a meeting with Mr Paugam. Most recently, Senegal and its mango industry have benefited from the Netherlands Trust Fund II programme which led to an 11% increase in mango exports from the Niayes region. The Ministry was seeking EIF funding for a follow-up project, Mr Sarr said. Senegal would require ITC’s technical guidance and expertise in other sectors such as tourism and information technology as well, he added.
Following ITC’s assistance in the development of the cassava sector under the All ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme (AAACP) programme, Liberia has continued to strengthen the capacity of existing cassava processing facilities, said Candace Eastman, Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry. The Minister also highlighted the on-going collaboration on WTO accession. Mr Paugam urged Liberia to keep up the momentum in developing its National Export Strategy, which has the full support of ITC. Commenting on Liberia’s negotiations to join the WTO, Mr Paugam pointed out the importance of a public-private dialogue to engage the business community in the accession process.
Cooperation within the EIF framework and conducting a survey of non-tariff measures affecting Guinea’s exporters were the main topics discussed between Friedrich von Kirchbach, ITC’s Director of Country Programmes and Mohamed Dorval Doumbouya, Guinea’s Minister of Trade. The Minister thanked ITC for the support given to the promotion of Café ZUIAMA, which was presented during a side event at the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade and the support for the finalisation of a project on mango exports. Mr Doumbouya highlighted the significant role of the EIF in helping Guinea address key challenges encountered in trade and development.
Papua New Guinea
While ITC is not currently working in Papua New Guinea, this could soon change as a result of discussions between Richard Maru, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Mr Shah of ITC. The two discussed a project to increase the economic opportunities for women in the country, as well as how ITC can provide technical assistance to meet the needs of the country’s SMEs. ITC officials are scheduled to meet representatives of the Government of Papua New Guinea later in the summer to explore concrete areas of collaboration.