United Kingdom and ITC Forge Alliance on Aid for Trade - Women Traders Special Focus
The United Kingdom and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have launched a new three year partnership to implement their common strategy on Aid for Trade, with a special focus on providing business development support to women traders in developing countries, and bringing transparency to information about non-tariff measures (NTMs) that can be barriers to trade.
Funding of £5.4 million (US$8.75 million) was committed by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to ITC’s Women and Trade and NTM programmes, and for organisational development under a memorandum of understanding signed on 21 January by ITC Executive Director Patricia R. Francis and DFID Head of Trade and Development Fiona Shera.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to partner with DFID in pushing forward the Aid for Trade agenda, which has become ever more important in light of the global economic crisis and the need for countries to use trade to pull out of the recession,” said Ms. Francis. “We regard this generous donation as a vote of confidence by the UK in the work we do at ITC.”
The Aid for Trade initiative was launched at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2005. Aid for Trade helps developing countries, particularly least developed countries; build the trade-related skills and infrastructure necessary to implement and benefit from WTO agreements and to boost trade as a contribution to poverty reduction and inclusive growth.
Women make up an estimated 70% of the world’s poor. Many produce goods and services that are traded - and trade, particularly across borders, creates important opportunities for increasing the profitability of their businesses. However, in many countries women entrepreneurs face significant challenges as exporters.
ITC’s Women and Trade Programme helps governments and trade support institutions take a gender-inclusive approach to trade strategies to maximize both export and human potential. It also helps such institutions strengthen their outreach to womenentrepreneurs to support business and product development.
The fundamental objective of the programme is to enable women to derive greater economic benefit from their participation in export-oriented value chains and improve the export competitiveness of goods and services supplied by women entrepreneurs.
Access to market information and information on NTMs emerged in ITC’s 2009 client survey as the top two priority concerns for policy-makers, trade support institutions and private-sector companies - ITC’s three main client groups. For these groups, transparent information about NTMs that affect their products is essential for sound decision-making, whether related directly to exports, assistance to exporters or policy formulation and negotiations.
ITC’s NTM programme, reinforced by the new UK funding collects, classifies and disseminates relevant information on NTMs to member countries in a way that supports better decision-making by all these groups.
The third element of the ITC-DFID partnership covers support to the ongoing process of strengthening ITC itself. The aim is to improve financial and human resources management, using results-based management approaches, and put in place better communication and information systems, with a refocusing on the millennium development goals as a core driver of the work of ITC.