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    Is Your Trade Support Network Working?

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2002

    To be competitive in today's rapidly changing business environment, national export strategies must be redefined and trade support institutions (TSIs) must embrace new roles.

    To be effective, a national export strategy must be comprehensively integrated into a country's overall economic planning framework. It should not simply deal with developing commercial opportunities in international markets. It should also encompass the longer-term "border-in" challenge of establishing a national competitiveness framework which would create an export culture, sharpen business competitiveness, and develop new export industries.

    As our discussions in the ITC Executive Forum over the past three years have shown, you ignore the issues of an enabling environment at your peril. Even small enterprises working with artisanal products have found that participating in foreign trade fairs can require them to change their attitudes. It is not just a question of access. You have to focus on making sure you have a product that people want to buy before you embark on an international sales campaign. And governments can help you make the adjustment by finding the right "tutor" in international marketing. "Border-in" has to come before "border-out". And one of the major complaints of businesses in developing and transition economies is their lack of access to finance, locally as much as internationally.

    Therefore, artisanal products and financing options are also the focus of our special section on trade support networks, looking at how ITC and professional "tutors" can help even this sector perform better in the exporting world. In these introductory sections, we offer a close-up look, which we hope will enable you to cast an informed eye on the discussion in the following pages of how a national export strategy can be planned, implemented and monitored for effectiveness.