Reaping and sharing the benefits of global trade
Recent years have a seen a strengthening of the headwinds facing trade. This is a bit of a paradox since never before in history have so many people across the world been able to reap the benefits of global trade.
But there are huge socio-economic gaps remaining between countries and within societies. Technological progress is uneven between countries, some regions continue to face geopolitical instability and climate change threatens to already vulnerable communities.
At the International Trade Centre (ITC), we aim to help countries and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) better use trade to close those gaps and leave no one behind. In 2017, we have stepped up this effort, connecting more people and enterprises to regional and international value chains and doing so with an increasing number of partners from the public and private sector.
At the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December, ITC will roll out a series of new initiatives that will make it easier for MSMEs to connect to global trade and for countries to grow employment through more value added trade.
For example, the Global Trade Helpdesk – a joint initiative of ITC with the WTO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – is a one-stop shop online platform for MSMEs looking to connect with partners abroad and export. HelpMeTrade.org will help guide potential exporters in every step of the way: from identifying potential export markets to providing step-by-step indications of which procedures to follow to turn this potential into reality.
In addition to the three organizations, the Global Trade Helpdesk pulls in data from a wide range of partners such as the Inter-American Development Bank, UNIDO or the World Customs Organisation, and is an important tool in ensuring greater transparency and in transforming data into trade and market intelligence.
Similarly, the web-based Cotton Portal – a joint initiative of ITC and the WTO – seeks to make it easier for cotton-producing countries to retain more added value at home.
ITC together with Iceland and Sierra Leone, under the International Gender Champions, is also spearheading a Declaration on ‘Women and Trade’, which will be formally unveiled at the WTO Ministerial Conference. The Declaration seeks to foster exchanges of good practices among WTO members in support of the economic empowerment of women through trade. At the time of writing, more than half of the WTO’s member states had expressed their support for the declaration.
These are only some of the initiatives that we will taking with us into 2018. ITC will continue to put inclusive and sustainable trade at the heart of its work. This means putting emphasis on creating opportunities for women, young entrepreneurs and displaced people. Above all, it is about matching the skills of smaller businesses so that they can more easily participate in regional and international value chains.
Strengthening the competitiveness of MSMEs enables them to take better advantage of the new trade routes that are opening up, and helps provide more opportunities for more people to reap the benefits of a more globalized world.