Opening statement by the Chairman of the 47th session of the Joint Advisory Group of the WTO, UNCTAD and ITC

11 June 2014
ITC News

Delivered on 11 June 2014 by H.E. Her Excellency Ms Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations and the WTO at the 48th session of Joint Advisory Group - WTO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Excellencies, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address you in my capacity as chair of the 47th Session of the Joint Advisory Group meeting, which was held at the UN in Geneva on 6-7 May 2013.

I am honored to be in the presence of Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Mr. Roberto Azevedo, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of ITC.

I would also like to recognize UN and WTO Ambassadors, and all trade and development partners attending this conference. In addition, I would also like to pay a special thanks to all partners who have contributed to the ITC financially, in-kind and for their active engagement to deliver “trade impact for good.”

Excellencies, Distinguished participants

Since the last JAG meeting ITC has continued to execute its responsibility and deliver results to a high standard, based on the priorities set out in the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan.

As we celebrate ITC’s 50th Anniversary this week and review its achievements in the last five decades, we see that the ITC continues to be a crucial element in the global aid for trade architecture. The Centre’s work clearly aligns with the Millennium Development Goals and its focus on helping Small and Medium Enterprises, Trade Support Institutions and Governments in the Least Development Countries, and Africa.

There are numerous examples showing the important role of ITC in delivering aid for trade and their ITC achievements, highlighted in the “ITC Annual Report 2013,” and in the book launched yesterday – “50 Years of Unlocking SME Competitiveness: Lessons for the Future.” I would like to just to mention a few.

  • Work with COMESA on regional competitiveness and export promotion resulted in SMEs gaining over US$5 million worth of new export orders, with another US$4.3 million under negotiations.
  • Over 15,850 individuals benefited from trade capacity building.
  • 665 enterprises have been linked with potential merchandisers and transacted business due to ITC technical assistance.
  • Over 140 Trade Support Institutions have improved their services to SMEs and enhance their management capacity.

And there are many more, from boosting the value of groundnut exports in The Gambia, improving the competitiveness of coffee growers in Uganda, to targeted poverty reduction in Kenya, through the ITC Ethical Fashion and Trade programme, which helped thousands of beneficiaries get linked to the global value chain of the fashion industry, resulting in 75% of these beneficiaries improving their savings and increasing their monthly earnings by over 23%.

The future for ITC looks very bright and like all important endeavors there are challenges and opportunities, some of which have been highlighted in the recently published “Independent Evaluation report on the ITC” covering the last 6 years. I as outgoing Chair of JAG, in my capacity as the UK Ambassador I am more than confidence that with Arancha and the expertise present in ITC, these challenges are surmountable.

Excellencies, Distinguished participants

I have thoroughly enjoyed being Chair of the JAG and supporting and advocating for the ITC the past 12 months. It is without exception an enriching experience to have been part of a global organisation that has helped and will continue to help hundreds of thousands of businesses, communities and individuals in developing countries to benefit from free trade and improve their quality of life.

I will continue to be an active supporter of the ITC’s work and look forward to see how this impressive international agency contributes to and help implement the goals to be agreed as part of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, and continues to deliver for businesses, particularly in the Least Developed Countries and Africa.

May I now call upon the in-coming Chairperson, Her Excellency Ms Mariam Saleh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the WTO to take up her position as Chair of the 48th Joint Advisory Group.

I thank you for your kind attention. Madam, you have the floor.