Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
12-13 October 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Session summaries, speeches, photos and videos
Programme storyline and speakers
The 16th edition of the World Export Development Forum
(WEDF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, helped businesses to
navigate the new trade and development landscape
WEDF is a unique global conference and business-to-business
(B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led
As the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEDF
brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads
of trade and investment support institutions and international trade
development officials to address international competitiveness for
This 16th edition of WEDF was co-hosted by ITC and the Ministry
of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka,
through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).
ITC is the only United Nations organization focusing exclusively on
small and medium-sized businesses, which are now recognized
as a cornerstone for development by the United Nations as well
as by the G7 and the G20.
ITC helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and
compete internationally, building on business opportunities.
With an average GDP growth of 6.7% over the past several years,
Sri Lanka offers new trade and investment opportunities at a
strategic location at the crossroads of important maritime routes
of the Indian Ocean.
The high-performing economy is underpinned by a skilled,
educated workforce. Many multinationals have a home in Sri
Over 80% of Sri Lankan businesses are SMEs. They feature
prominently in Sri Lanka’s economic blueprint, which sets out
ambitious goals to create one million new jobs through wider
participation in the global economy
EDB is the key agency that promotes linkages between Sri Lankan
businesses and international markets and partners.
WEDF 2016 was designed for decision makers that drive business
innovation and internationalization.
Meet us in Sri Lanka for high-level panel discussions, practical
workshops and B2B meetings to:
The consumers of tomorrow are shifting.
By 2030, two thirds of the middle class will be in Asia, 14% in
Europe, and 7% in North America, according to the Brookings
Institution. Africa, too, is changing fast. The African Development
Bank reports that Africa now has the fastest-growing middle
class, with almost 35% of Africa’s population. This is double what
it was less than 20 years ago.
As a result, trade patterns continue to change. There are growing
transactions within and between the South, such as between
Asia and East Africa, and Latin America or between African
countries themselves. This trade will continue to be anchored
within regional and international value chains.
The nature of the consumer is also transforming. Consumers
increasingly emphasize quality, standards and labour and
human rights in their purchases of goods and services. There
is greater attention on transparency and traceability within value
chains. The way that consumers purchase and consume goods
and services is also changing, with technological innovations
and falling transportation costs.
The economic power of women and youth has yet to be tapped.
This ‘third billion’ of women, including entrepreneurs and young
consumers, are becoming viable economic actors in the new
Trade and business policies must transform to meet these new
realities. The continued dispersal of production, a focus on reducing
non-tariff barriers to trade, and the implications of private standards
will dominate the trade topography. The balancing act between the
multilateral trading system and megaregional trade agreements will
also define the landscape.
As megaregional agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership emerge, the
voice of business is essential to shape competitiveness strategies.
Trade facilitation and logistics remain key drivers of improved
Digital technologies are reshaping how we trade, opening up new
opportunities to compete in the global economy.Entreprises can reach new consumers around the world directly, and
integrate more quickly and higher up the value chain, thanks to
e-commerce and technologies such as 3D printing.
Standards have become a gateway for businesses to enter international
markets. Certification of standards and regulations may include
technical specifications required by producers in the supply chain or
health, social or environmental standards demanded by consumers
If you are interested in learning more about WEDF, please contact us at wedf[at]intracen.org