Scaling up trade through skills, innovation and connectivity
(Lusaka) – The 18th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) was today opened by Zambian Vice-President Inonge Wina, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma, and Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre. More than 1,400 delegates from more than 70 countries are attending the two-day event in Lusaka, Zambia.
Hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, participants will be exploring how trade can work for the 99% and be made more inclusive, especially for youth and women. This will all be discussed under the theme ‘Scaling Up Through Trade: Skill, Innovate, Connect’.
Opening the event, Vice President Inonge Wina said: ‘In Zambia, we are stepping up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of our micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and anchor them to multinationals, which will help increase exports and job creation, and ensure more sustainable growth. WEDF18 provides an opportunity to discuss challenges shared by other countries, share best practices and learn from one another.’
In her opening remarks, Ms González pointed out that the World Export Development Forum is an arena where trade policy concerns meet business practice. It is a conversation about what is working – and what needs to be improved – to make international markets work better for MSMEs and sustainable development.
Pointing to Africa’s untapped potential, Ms González said: ‘Continent-wide economic integration will create a larger market than that available in individual African countries or regions.’
‘For African businesses, this promises in turn to enable the productivity gains that come with increased scale and specialization. For African consumers, it promises wider choices and better prices. The evidence suggests that when African countries trade with each other, the goods they exchange are more sophisticated than those they export to the rest of the world,’ she said.
Ms González said that as others seek to retreat from international cooperation, African governments are moving forward. ‘African countries have recognized the opportunities offered by open trade exceed the downsides,’ she said.
Christopher Yaluma, Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, pointed to the need to empower Zambia’s women in trade. ’We are determined to protect and promote Zambia’s women entrepreneurs and can play a greater role in our country’s exports,’ he said.
During the two-day event, business leaders, policymakers and youth from around the world will explore a range of trade-related issues, including agribusiness, investment and the African Continental Free Trade Area. For this year’s event, youth and regional trade will be cross-cutting themes, touching upon in most of the high-level sessions.
The global population is forecast to grow by 2.2 billion people by 2050, and more than half of that growth is expected to be in Africa.
Following the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement earlier this year, the African Union is putting youth at the heart of development, as drivers of growth. At WEDF, policymakers and business leaders will be exploring options for a friendlier environment for young people to gain relevant skills, start their own businesses and create quality jobs.
The opening day of WEDF 2018 will also feature an African Union and ITC interactive Youth UnConference on the topic of a world without borders, highlighting the perspectives of young entrepreneurs from eight African countries. There will also be a young entrepreneurs’ pitch competition featuring seven candidates from across the African continent. This winner of this will be announced during the WEDF18 closing ceremony on 12 September.
In parallel to the high-level sessions, business-to-business meetings are being held on the sidelines of WEDF. These are focused on agribusiness – including crops and oilseeds, prepared foods, honey, agricultural machinery and packaging. The meetings are bringing together farmers, manufacturers, exporters, importers, wholesalers, retailers and investors interested in selling, buying or investing in select agricultural products and technologies.
Notes for the Editor
World Export Development Forum: www.intracen.org/wedf
WEDF registration: wedf-registration.org
WEDF B2B meetings: www.intracen.org/wedf18/b2b/
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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For media inquiries:
Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
Office of the Executive Director
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org ( )