News brief

10 December 2013
ITC News
Hopes for Trade Facilitation Agreement at WTO’s Ninth Ministerial Conference

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Ninth Ministerial Conference will be held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013. A successful outcome of the upcoming conference is deemed crucial for the future of the multilateral trading system, given the impasse in the Doha Round of negotiations. If agreed, the multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement under negotiation could offer tangible benefits to small businesses in developing countries. Trade-facilitation measures are needed to foster the participation of developing countries – particularly landlocked countries – in global trade. Small and medium-sized enterprises often bear high costs of complying with customs and border procedures and other non-tariff measures, so they require such measures to overcome barriers and become competitive suppliers.

Other issues on the agenda relate to agricultural production and food security, as well as the recognition of the special needs of least developed countries.

Free access to ITC’s market analysis data

Users from all over the world now have free access to the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) market analysis databases and related analytical tools, including Trade Map, Investment Map, Market Access Map and Standards Map.

Developing countries and economies in transition have benefited from free access to these tools since 2008. Now users in developed countries will also have free access. The databases and tools provide free trade-related data to exporters and buyers in all countries and are designed to facilitate and improve transparency in international trade, leading to increased exports by small and medium-sized enterprises of developing countries and economies in transition.

‘ITC offers comprehensive and user-friendly market analysis databases with a focus on data from developing countries and economies in transition. Global free access to these data will give more users the opportunity to identify market opportunities, allowing trade to be further strengthened in developing countries and transition economies, which is a core mandate of ITC,’ said Arancha González, Executive Director of ITC.

There are currently 320,000 users of ITC’s market analysis tools, of which 85% are in developing countries and 15% in developed countries. Some 6,000 new users sign up to access ITC’s market analysis tools each month.

UN conference warns that developing countries face uncertainties over debt

Greater steps must be taken to avoid or mitigate debt crises, particularly among developing countries which, for the first time in more than a decade, are seeing their debt rise in relation to their gross domestic product (GDP), according to a United Nations Debt Management Conference in Geneva in November 2013.

The conference, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), focused on debt sustainability, mechanisms for preventing crises and management strategies. Participants included representatives from governments, international organizations, academia, the private sector and civil society.

‘As the frequency and severity of such debt crises have increased, and they are no longer isolated to developing countries, the need for timely, impartial and transparent resolutions of debt problems has become more acute for all countries,’ said Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD.

Mr. Kituyi said reforms of the international financial architecture are required that create more effective mechanisms for the prevention of crises as well as their timely resolution. He called for the UNCTAD-formulated set of Principles on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing to be increasingly applied, and for international reforms leading to an ‘agreed mechanism for debt workouts’ to be used if a new round of debt crises occurs.

Kyrgyzstan national export strategy aims to open up global markets

Kyrgyzstan has launched its national export strategy after more than a year of multi-stakeholder consultations led by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The strategy, which was launched in October 2013, is a blueprint for the country’s private sector, government and development partners to work together to increase the competitiveness of Kyrgyz products in global markets. It seeks to generate employment opportunities, improve the business environment and explore means of sustainable growth.

‘For Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked developing country, this national export strategy provides a clear direction on how to best take advantage of its rich natural resources and people in a sustainable manner,’ said ITC’s Executive Director, Arancha González.

The strategy targets the development of six priority sectors: tourism, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat products, clothing and bottled water. It includes provisions for access to finance, trade information and promotion, quality management and trade facilitation, which will improve export competitiveness beyond the selected priority sectors.

‘The National Export Strategy of Kyrgyzstan will guide the implementation of our country’s development programmes and help boost our exports. It will contribute to the economic growth and sustainable development of Kyrgyzstan,’ said Temir Sariev, Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Economy.

The initiative, led by the Ministry of Economy, is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and implemented by ITC.