To ensure success when ITC agrees to work with a country, the following seven principles and characteristics are applied:
The process of creating the strategy is as important as the content itself. The key to this process is ownership. Those responsible for managing and monitoring a strategy, those who implement it and those who stand to benefit from it need to be involved in its formulation. If those groups are not involved then there is no commitment and limited interest. The Paris Declaration made it clear that country ownership is fundamental to aid effectiveness. And fundamental to ownership is a national strategy developed through “broad consultative processes”.
The NES initiative involves public and private sector stakeholders as well as representatives of civil society, NGOs, unions and academia that are involved in, or have a bearing on, international trade and export competitiveness. The quality and relevance of the resulting NES relies on the full engagement of national stakeholders and their substantive contributions. In ITC’s experience, the ‘best practice’ model includes the establishment of a formal public-private dialogue platform, such as a National Export Council, at an early stage to guide and manage the process.
The principal objective of ITC’s technical assistance is to strengthen the ability of partner countries to formulate, manage and implement export development strategies that are relevant and realistic. ITC does not design the strategies, but rather it improves skill levels within the country. It also aims to develop the skills that are required for stakeholders to refine their strategy in the future.
A NES initiative takes into account other relevant plans, studies and programmes in the country. It builds on, rather than duplicates, what the country has already evaluated and prioritized then ensures consistency with the government’s policy objectives.
To be truly relevant, a NES must have a combined competitiveness and developmental orientation. ITC’s methodology allows priorities to be set across three competitiveness dimensions: (i) supply-side capacities and how to improve these by encouraging diversification whilst ensuring that there is the right kind of human capital; (ii) the quality of the business environment by making sure that transaction costs are competitive, that bureaucracies are kept to a minimum and are efficient, that there is the right kind of supporting trade infrastructure, including an appropriate regulatory framework; and (iii) demand side conditions, including the country’s multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, and national promotion, branding and market entry. In the NES, all these competitive dimensions are aligned with the country’s broader developmental objectives of reducing poverty, creating employment, ending gender bias, improving environmental sustainability, and regional integration.
Resources for export development are limited, therefore priorities must be set. Priorities must be determined at the levels of policy-makers, trade support institutions, and enterprises by analysing the needs which provide the best prospects for export development and competitiveness according to actual market conditions and demand. In other words, national export strategies address constraints and identify opportunities that would achieve maximum export impact in the country.
The strategy does not stop at defining broad objectives. Rather, it details what should be done to achieve objectives in actionable steps at the operational level. Targets and impact measures are also specified. This promotes transparency and understanding in the country of which actions directly contribute to export development and competitiveness.
The NES design and management process, including the key milestones set under each phase, are illustrated below (Click on the thumbnail to see the full chart):
Based on experience in other countries, a NES will typically require twelve work months to complete from the start of the Inception Phase. Clearly, the time required to complete each task may vary depending on the responsiveness of counterparts in the country.
The principal output is an endorsed, coherent, comprehensive and prioritized strategy document complete with a plan of action and implementation management framework. Interim outputs include:
Additional details are provided in the Logframe which can be downloaded in the NES Concept Note.
The principal outcomes of a NES design and management initiative are listed below. These are elaborated in the NES Logframe, which can be downloaded in the NES Concept Note.Short-term outcomes: