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    ITC Presents: Portraits of Trade Development

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2004 
     

    With this collection of portraits, ITC brings a message of challenge, and of hope. The immense challenge is to bridge the gap between rich and poor. The hope is to build upon practices that work, in the area of trade development, and take action on a broader scale.



    In today's globalized world, new market opportunities abound. But competition is fiercer, so developing countries are asking ITC the same question they asked 40 years ago: "How can we export better?" In essence, these countries need both competitive exports and market access. Helping countries build their capacity to supply world markets is ITC's contribution to sustainable development, through trade.



     

    While trade is still dominated by wealthier players, the stories presented in this book show the potential for small businesses around the world to take their place in the world economy. There is real hope for small traders in today's competitive marketplace. In helping small businesses, we help the communities that depend on them, and contribute to overcoming poverty.

    Some of the trade development successes in this book:
     

    • Tapping into changed consumer tastes and environmental trends, the jute industry has moved into furnishings and fashion, and avoided the price slide that has befallen many other commodities.
    • Though coffee prices are at the lowest in a century, ITC has helped growers of quality coffee get high prices through the world's first Internet coffee auction, which has now evolved into the independent Cup of Excellence® programme.
    • In China, 20,000 farming families have been lifted out of rural poverty in a remarkable success story that has seen them build a leading cut-flower centre in Asia.
    • Viet Nam has become the world's leading pepper exporter - but they have done it while upgrading quality, thus raising incomes for thousands of rural families.
    • In rural Bolivia, thousands of workers have shifted from rubber exports to more lucrative Brazil nut exports in a move that's helping to protect the Amazon rainforest.
    • By meeting UN buyers of relief goods, African firms are taking steps to get a share of the billions of dollars spent in the business of aid supplies.
    • Firms have achieved cost savings on their supply purchases, after undergoing supply management training.
    • Arbitration centres to resolve business disputes are growing in economies that are joining global markets, from Croatia to Latvia to South Africa - and learning from each other.
    What is striking about these, and the many other stories in this book, is how small but strategic initiatives - in the hands of committed partners and experienced staff - can make a measurable difference.

    These stories address big issues that concern us today: protecting the environment, promoting women's integration in economic life, bridging the digital divide, helping disaster-stricken communities regain their footing, encouraging businesses of the South to make their voice heard in trade talks, and more.

    An institution rests on the shoulders of all that has gone before. ITC has built upon its tradition of service. Through this publication, we pay tribute to the committed clients, partners, donors and staff - past and present - who have worked over the years to improve the lives of people in poorer countries and reduce the gap between the developed and developing world.

    In ITC tradition, we have also aimed to be practical, which is the main word that people associate with us. Through these stories, the message and legacy that we at ITC want to leave behind is: trade development solutions can make a difference for poor people.



    Natalie Domeisen, ITC