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    Happy Birthday, International Trade Forum!

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2004

    In 2004, Trade Forum magazine celebrates 40 years of trade development news

    and views. The Trade Forum is the only global magazine dealing with trade from a business and developing country perspective. First published in 1964 and circulated to 10,000 readers, each issue now is distributed quarterly to 28,000 readers around the world. The online version attracts another 40,000 to 60,000 readers each month.

    Over its 40-year history, Trade Forum magazine has helped readers understand and benefit from the evolving trade environment. Its focus on trade development through practical information and analysis of trade development trends gives Trade Forum a unique flavour. Articles over the years have been diverse - from market opportunities for agricultural machinery, pet accessories, organic foods and back office operations to topics such as business advocacy for trade negotiations, the role of trade promotion organizations and many others.


    Practical help

    Trade Forum magazine is part of ITC's technical cooperation programme to help the developing world improve its trade competitiveness in a changing global marketplace. Trade promotion organizations, industry associations, government ministries, development cooperation agencies, universities, journalists, businesses and non-governmental organizations are regular readers. Over 75% of our print subscribers are from developing and transition economies. From its very first edition, the magazine has been issued in English, French and Spanish.


    1964 Not just a debating ground



    The first issue of Trade Forum promised that "its particular endeavour will be to provide practical help to developing countries in their efforts to expand their export trade.

    "The Trade Forum [is not] designed to be just a debating ground for questions of international economic policy. Primarily - as its name implies - it hopes to be a meeting place for people interested in promoting trade, in particular the export trade of the developing countries, and a medium for the exchange of ideas and information between buyers and sellers."

    Forty years on, we are still meeting this challenge.


    Just before the first edition of the magazine went to press, a cable from London "stopped press": the British Board of Trade was offering training courses in export promotion for officials from developing countries. From the beginning, helping trade officials and business people gain knowledge and skills was a priority for ITC, andTrade Forum has reflected this in many training articles since then.


    1974 Practical tips... and views




    Listening to voices from the field is what keeps ITC relevant.Trade Forum reports on views from around the world to help developing and transition economies share experiences, concerns and lessons. Trends in national export promotion activities continue to be a regular Trade Forum feature.


    Practical information to help small firms increase exports - such as tips on finding the best distributors - is whatTrade Forum has a reputation for.


    1984 Tailored market opportunities



    When selling "lifestyle" goods to sophisticated markets, staying in touch with consumer preferences and changing fashions is a must. In 1984,Trade Forum advised developing country exporters of wooden furniture to the United States and Western Europe to concentrate on living and dining room articles, as tastes in these items were similar in both regions.



    South-South trade is a way for firms in poor countries with limited international experience to move into exporting.Trade Forum magazine has helped promote trade between developing countries for many years, for example through specialized market studies. There are important markets for South-South trade in a wide range of sectors, from agricultural machinery to newspapers and aid supplies.


    1994 Quality, essential to compete



    Paying attention to product quality and buyers' requirements is essential to export successfully, as this article on the market for dehydrated vegetables underlines. Quality is important in all sectors: unless producers can comply with market standards, they won't be competitive and win greater market share, even if demand grows. Over the years,Trade Forum has reported on many aspects of meeting standards in export markets.



    2004 Maintaining tradition... still innovating



    In recent years, we've taken a different approach to fulfilling our mission of "practical help", while maintaining our tradition of providing leads and contacts for readers. With issues like Greening Your Business, Trade Law Gets Down to Business, Trade Talks: Is Business on Board?, Putting "E" to Work and Women in the Global Economy, we provide in-depth reporting on important themes in trade development today. Articles from partner organizations and experts in these areas, as well as from ITC, bring a more rounded coverage of the issues.

    Readers glancing through recent ITC News inTrade Forum will see that "best practices" in export strategy and tools and services for developing country exporters remain ITC's focus, though methods to deliver assistance may have changed. Regional meetings, stronger partnerships with local institutions and electronic market analysis tools have become the norm.

    In the first issue of 2004, a first-time Trade Forum magazine report from the World Economic Forum's annual meeting shows that at 40 years old, we're still innovating.

    Forum online

    The first web version of the magazine was available in 1999. We've refined the site constantly, and we'll be launching a new re-design later this year that makes it even easier to find trade development information.

    The online version receives between 40,000 and 60,000 visits a month from 140 countries, 100 of which are developing or transition economies.

    In 2003, the magazine site attracted 30% of readers from developing countries - that's almost three times the rate of developing country Internet users worldwide. The ratio of developing country visitors to the Spanish site was even higher - almost 60%. The fastest-growing category of sites linking to the Forum site are educational institutions.





    Natalie Domeisen (domeisen@intracen.org) has been the Editor of Trade Forum magazine since 1998.