WEDF 2017 closing remarks

27 October 2017
ITC News
Speech delivered by ITC Executive Director Arancha González at the closing session of the World Export Development Forum
26 October 2017 - Budapest, Hungary

As we come to the end of this World Export Development Forum, I want to thank the people and government of Hungary for the partnership and hospitality that have made the past two days both thought-provoking and entertaining.

A particular round of applause should go to the team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including Dorottya Mártonffy-Nagy and Gabor Kovács, who took time off from their day jobs as commercial diplomats to be our MCs here.

I also want to thank the exceptional thought leaders and entrepreneurs we have heard from during the conference. On issues ranging from crowdfunding and upscaling to value chains, women’s empowerment, and environmental sustainability, we will take home new ideas to inform our work and business models.

The connections made here promise to yield new contracts and new partnerships. 105 companies from 17 countries held more than 300 bilateral B2B meetings. Some of the links were frankly unexpected: even I was surprised to hear about businesses from Hungary and Myanmar poised to export corn oil from here while importing sesame seeds in the opposite direction.

We saw businesses take steps to move from agriculture to agribusiness. A Colombian firm that currently sells nuts of the sacha inchi plant is looking to import processing machinery from Hungary that would allow it to sell value-added oils and high-protein flour.

Green does mean business: Hungarian water treatment firms are set to visit two companies in Qatar, where their technologies could help save water and costs.

Yesterday, someone asked about trade among the 99%. Today I can tell you about a Gambian agri-food firm that is in talks with a company from the Philippines for solutions to transform mango peels and seeds into animal feed and inputs for the cosmetic industry. South-South cooperation for waste to wealth.

At the start of this conference, I talked about the current climate of scepticism about trade. Two days later, I can confirm: we might have been over 600 people, from 67 countries, 60% of us women. But there are no sceptics here!

Last night, Minister of State Levente Magyar reminded us that open trade contributes not just to prosperity, but to peace.

Today, however, it has become clear that if we are to maintain the political consensus behind open trade, the opportunities presented by international markets must be available to all. And we cannot bridge the gap between openness and opportunity, between markets and inclusion, without micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. In other words, we cannot bridge the gap without you.

I urge all of you to build on the contacts you have made here. And, as part of the WEDF family, to stay in touch with ITC, and let us know how the connections you have built here develop.

It is now my pleasure to present Deputy Secretary of State Petra Pana with a small token of ITC’s appreciation for the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Before we close, it is time to look ahead. Last year, WEDF took us to Sri Lanka the pearl of the Indian Ocean. This year brought us to the pearl of the Danube, Budapest.

The eighteenth edition of WEDF will be held at another crossroads, this time between eastern and southern Africa. On behalf of ITC, I thank the Government of Zambia for offering to host next year’s conference.

I now invite Permanent Secretary Kayula Agnes Siame from Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry to take the floor.

Thank you for being with us in Budapest and see you in Zambia next year!